After months of uncertainty about the future of the Bend Road bridge near Pacific, efforts are under way to get the span reopened.
The Franklin County Commission voted Thursday to seek bids to repair the bridge.
With engineering and construction costs included, officials have estimated that it could cost around $35,500 to get the bridge reopened.
Phil Guffey, who lives a mile and a half from the bridge, said he is happy it will reopen. Safety is the most important factor, Guffey said, adding that he does not want to see anyone get killed on the approximately 100-year-old bridge.
County commissioners said they voted to close the bridge in November because of safety and liability concerns. Prior to the bridge closing, the weight limit had already been reduced to 12 tons from 17 tons after an inspection found a worsening crack.
Madonna Cieslik, who lives a mile from the bridge, said the closure has been inconvenient because of the additional travel time required to take an alternate route.
Pacific Alderman Steve Myers said the plan to repair the bridge is good news for people on both sides of the Meramec River, and it shows that the city and county can work together.
First District Commissioner Tim Brinker said Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer kept up the effort to get the bridge repaired and reopened.
“He (Griesheimer) stuck to it and showed why he is an asset to this county,” Brinker said.
On Thursday, the county commission approved a cooperative agreement with Pacific to make repairs to the bridge with a 50/50 cost share agreement, Griesheimer said.
During a separate Franklin County Transportation Committee meeting on Thursday, Pacific City Administrator Harold Selby said his city wants to allocate money from another project to pay for the bridge repairs.
Selby said his city wants to return about $44,000 that it received from the Franklin County Transportation Committee for a Thornton Road project. Selby said revenue from a community improvement district can pay for that work now, and the other money can go to the bridge.
In fact, Selby said the money that the city wants to return could be enough to cover the costs of all of the bridge repairs.
But the transportation committee says it needs legal advice on how the money that was designated for Pacific can now be redirected to the bridge project.
Griesheimer said he would still rather stick with the original plan for the county and Pacific to split the repair costs 50/50 since it is a county-owned bridge. He added that it is great that Pacific is willing to cover 50 percent of the cost.
Also, on Thursday, the county commission in a special meeting rescinded a previous order to close the bridge in November.
However, the county bridge will remain closed until repairs are made and an inspection completed.
Griesheimer said the county’s liability insurance carrier, MOPERM, has agreed to cover the bridge after the repairs and inspection are completed.
The county plans to open bids on the bridge Feb. 3 at 10 a.m. in the county commission chambers.
It could take about two weeks to make the repairs. An engineer’s report found that the bridge has a cracked eyebar. The work to repair the bridge will also include concrete repairs.
Meanwhile, efforts are under way to put up a new bridge, but that could still be a couple of years away. The total replacement cost, with construction and engineering, is expected to be about $5 million. The county plans to apply for federal construction funds in the next month or so.