Bend Bridge

Almost $3.5 million in federal funding was given preliminary approval this week to replace the Bend Road bridge in eastern Franklin County near Pacific, officials announced Tuesday.

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments, a regional planning agency that allocates federal money, approved $3.46 million for the project. That is the full amount of federal money the county applied for, Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said.

The bridge is nearly 100 years old.

While the approval is still preliminary, getting the final OK for the money is basically a formality, County Highway Administrator Joe Feldmann said.

The East-West Gateway staff has recommended approval of the money, but the agency’s board of directors must still approve it in July, Griesheimer said.

If the county is approved for the funding, the project may start in the spring of 2015 and be completed sometime in 2016, Feldmann has said.

The county would provide a construction funding match of $1,030,961 for the bridge replacement.

Last year, the county closed the bridge due to safety and liability concerns. But repairs were made that allowed the bridge to reopen at a 12-ton load limit.

Griesheimer said getting the funding is “good news,” and the county will fight to get final funding approval.

“This is the furthest we have ever gotten with funding for that bridge,” Griesheimer said, adding that he is “extremely happy.”

Griesheimer also thanked the city of Pacific, Meramec Ambulance District, Pacific Fire, Meramec Valley School District and the Missouri Department of Transportation for submitting letters in support of the project.

Griesheimer also thanked former Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Ed Hillhouse, who is now the executive director of East-West Gateway. Griesheimer said Hillhouse has helped Franklin County behind the scenes when it comes to getting the bridge funding.

Last year, East-West Gateway approved $160,000 in federal right-of-way funding for the project with another $40,000 in right-of-way dollars to come from the county.

Also, the county is paying for design and engineering in-house for about $385,000. In addition, the county will pay for construction administration and inspection for $165,000.

The county commission has also approved a supplemental agreement of $28,250 for environmental services, including an endangered species mussel survey, archaeological and historical artifact review and natural resources impact report.

The archaeological and historical survey turned up no problems, and the mussel survey should get under way when the weather gets warmer, Feldmann said.