Missouri Department of Transportation officials will continue seeking input on the design plan for a new Missouri River bridge at Washington over the next several weeks.
The plan approved by the bridge enhancement committee last week was presented to the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee Monday morning.
Committee members commented on the design and made some suggestions on bridge enhancements.
Judy Wagner, MoDOT area engineer, said the public will have an opportunity Thursday evening to view drawings of the new bridge and offer comments at the Sunset on the Riverfront event in Rennick Park. After that, the drawings will be set up at city hall, she noted.
The preliminary plans and drawings will be presented to the city council at its Monday, July 1, meeting, Wagner said.
“This is the design they (bridge enhancement committee members) voted on and approved,” Wagner noted.
“We will continue to get feedback over the next few weeks,” she told the committee.
Wagner said the enhancement committee did “a lot of hard work” with the goal of coming up with a unique-looking structure. “They wanted a unique structure, an iconic bridge,” she said.
“We will have a unique structure that will serve the community for the next 100 years,” Wagner said.
Under the preliminary plan prepared by HDR Engineering Inc. and endorsed by the enhancement committee and MoDOT design team, the new bridge will be a variable depth girder superstructure, which means the side girders, as seen from a distance, would range from 18 feet deep at the piers to 10 feet at the midpoint between piers.
The bridge will have two 12-foot lanes, two 10-foot shoulders and a 10-foot-wide bike path along the west side. A 16-foot overlook, where walkers and bikers can stop and view the river and cityscape, is proposed at the center pier of the bridge.
Also proposed at that location is an overhead arch element that will be about 40 feet high and serve as a gateway on the bridge.
L.B. Eckelkamp, committee member, said having only one overhead element looks “puny” and he suggested adding two or more overhead arches at pier locations north and south of the center one.
Kevin Kriete, with HDR, said adding more overhead elements could detract from the center gateway, which is designed to “hearken back” to the look of the existing bridge. He also noted the cost to add similar elements would be about $225,000 each.
Currently, the amount of money set aside for enhancements is $800,000 which was contributed by the city of Washington and Franklin and Warren counties.
The estimated cost of enhancements proposed by the committee comes to approximately $1.3 million which includes girder lighting on the west side of the bridge. If girder lighting is added on the east side, however, the price increases to over $1.9 million.
Eckelkamp said he can’t see the advantage of girder lighting on the east side and said the money spent on that would “more than pay for” two additional overhead arches.
Darren Lamb, community and economic development director, said the plan is to apply next year for a federal enhancement grant through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments to make up the funding shortfall for the bridge enhancements.
By putting together a joint application with Franklin County and using the $800,000 already dedicated as a matching amount, Lamb said he feels the city will have an improved chance of being awarded funds.
“We think we have a good application,” Lamb said.
Bill Miller Sr., member, said he’s heard comments that the single overhead structure at the center of the bridge “looks alone,” and he suggested it may stand out more if cable anchors were added.
Wagner said anything added must be substantial. The overlook was designed to be seen from the riverfront park, she added. Adding cables would not be visible, Wagner said.
The overlook will be partially covered with a sunshade and will have a circular built-in bench. The overlook is considered part of the bridge structure, not an enhancement, so the cost will be paid by MoDOT, Wagner explained.
Ray Frankenberg II, member, asked why the state didn’t look at building a bridge that mirrors the current structure or consider a cable span.
“If there was no limit on funds, we could build the bridge just like it is now,” Kriete responded.
Wagner said the estimated cost to construct the new bridge as designed is approximately $45 million. She estimated the cost to build a bridge like the current one would be $80 million or more.
There will be no lighting on the bridge deck, Wagner explained.
John Griesheimer, a member of the enhancement committee, said he likes the way the Hermann bridge looks with lights on poles along the sides of the deck, but in the spirit of compromise he went along with other members to agree to the girder lighting.
Others at the meeting said they don’t like the look of the Hermann bridge. “I’m just throwing it out,” Griesheimer said.
Wagner said meetings are scheduled with six utility companies regarding the location of utility lines. The goal is to have all utility lines placed under the bridge and out of sight.
Miller said with the bridge connection to the Katy Trail in Warren County, people will be coming to the bridge to use the biking/walking path. He asked if any thought had been given to adding parking facilities near the bridge.
Wagner said it was discussed that weekend parking may be available on hospital and medical office parking lots in that area, but no provisions were made for additional parking.
“We need to determine that,” she said.