Bend Road bridge in eastern Franklin County will be closed until further notice on Friday because of its poor condition and the danger it presents to motorists.
County commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to close the 97-year-old bridge until it can be replaced.
Franklin County Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke said it could be the worst bridge in the state, and her recommendation to the county commission was that it be closed.
Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer voted against closing the bridge even though he said it was probably necessary to do so.
He said he just wanted to ask who would be responsible for ongoing inspections if it were to stay open.
Even though he voted against closing it, Griesheimer seemed to think it was the right thing to do.
“If it’s that bad we can’t risk the lives of people going across it,” Griesheimer said.
Commissioners Tim Brinker and Mike Schatz voted in favor of closing the bridge.
“I think it’s been a long time coming,” Schatz said.
The closure of the bridge comes after a recent state inspection found that the load limit had to be reduced from 17 tons to 12 tons.
This stopped school buses from using the bridge.
MoDOT recommended that the county make a repair to the bridge or close it.
Schatz said repairing it would be throwing good money after bad. The bridge has a serious crack that must be addressed.
Gadcke estimated that it could cost $35,000 to $40,000 to repair.
Because of the bridge’s condition, it would have to be inspected on a routine basis to keep it open.
While closing the bridge may be an inconvenience for some, the safety of the residents is the primary concern, Schatz said.
The last traffic count was done in 2009 and it was 1,500 vehicles per day.
Brinker said he has heard that fewer people are using it because they are scared of it.
Closing the bridge minimizes the county’s risk and liability and protects the citizens, Brinker said.
The goal now is to move forward and get it replaced as soon as possible, Brinker said.
The county recently secured $160,000 in right of way funding from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments for a new bridge. The good news is that the county has moved forward with design and environmental work for a future bridge, Gadcke said.