Planning for the grand opening of the new Highway 47 bridge over the Missouri River should begin in April.
Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Area Engineer Judy Wagner said the opening date of the $63 million bridge is tentatively slated for Dec. 3.
She added the opening date is not set because the construction time line could be shifted over the next nine months.
“There are a lot of variables because of the weather,” she explained.
During Monday’s Washington Area Transportation Committee meeting, Wagner suggested the city of Washington, not MoDOT, coordinate locally with groups who are looking to take part in the grand opening, or closing events for the current bridge.
“There are too many groups that want to participate,” Wagner commented.
Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Straatmann said the new bridge opening could bring media and visitors to Washington.
“I think it will be great to draw attention to Washington — it is a great opportunity for the city to get good PR,” he said.
Wagner stated that the bridge contractor, Alberici Constructors, will own the current bridge after the new structure is completed.
She added that the company likely won’t allow any type of celebration on the bridge for liability concerns. That includes an organized run or dinner on the bridge deck.
Kevin Kriete, bridge designer with HDR Engineering Inc., said crews will work to remove salvageable pieces before the bridge is imploded into the Missouri River.
“They will get as much of the structure out before dropping it in the river,” he said.
Wagner added there will be a watch party for the demolition of the old bridge sometime in 2019.
There were six concrete girders that were delivered near the bridge site Monday. They are scheduled to be installed overnight through Thursday, March 1.
During the work, motorists should expect intermittent closures in both directions for up to 30 minutes at a time up to three times a night from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. All work is weather permitting.
The girders are 152 feet long and 6 1/2 feet tall. They weigh 150,000 pounds each.
According to Wagner, the six girders will connect pier No. 10, the southernmost pier, to pier No. 9.
She added that the girders are the last of the precast concrete girders and will bring crews closer to completing the bridge substructure.
“It is a huge thing to be out of the river,” Wagner said. “They won’t be so dependent on the (water) elevation.”
The project involves building a new 2,560-foot-long bridge just to the west — upstream — from the existing span, which was completed in 1936.
The new structure is designed with two 12-foot driving lanes, two 10-foot shoulders and a 10-foot-wide biking/walking path along the west side. An overlook, where walkers and bikers can stop and view the river and cityscape, will be at the center bridge pier.
The new bridge path will connect to a biking/walking path along Highway 47, north of the river, which ties into the state’s Katy Trail, one of the longest continuous bicycle trails in the United States.