Detailed photos and preservation of historic artifacts will be considered before the demolition of the century old Bend Road bridge near Pacific.
Franklin County Highway Administrator Ron Williams said much attention will be paid to the archiving by photographing all aspects of the bridge from several different angles and perspectives.
“Photos will be taken at various stages,” Williams said. “We also have to find and guarantee there is a historical society or museum to house any memorial plaques and badges.”
Williams added this archival photography will most likely be done in late fall or winter when there would not be as many leaves on the trees or other obstacles that would hinder views of the bridge.
This process will cost the county an additional $8,000 to complete, but is required by state law.
“I know there are a number of hoops to jump through,” said Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer. “But it is money well spent to make sure all federal requirements are being met. Otherwise we could be in trouble.”
On March 9, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) denied a request to transfer ownership of the Withington Ford, more commonly known as Bend Bridge, to a trail organization which sought to keep the bridge in place as a part of an interstate trail system.
Williams said the decision by the FHWA completely closes the door on any chances of preserving the old bridge that was built in 1916.
The Magi Foundation had proposed a plan to include the historic steel truss bridge as the crossover point in a planned Missouri-Arkansas trail system when a new bridge is constructed and opened.
The bridge was earlier identified as being in the worst condition of any bridge in the state, but trail enthusiasts said it could still have a long life as a trail for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians.
Instead, Williams said the plans and documents have all been approved and with the go-ahead to remove the old bridge, the project can now move forward with competitive bidding for the $4.5 million project that should go out by this summer.
In all, the project is an 80/20 split with MoDOT, with the county’s share at about $1 million.