By Monday afternoon, north- and southbound traffic was flowing on the new Highway 47 bridge over the Missouri River.
The new bridge was opened to southbound traffic just after 9 a.m. Monday and about five hours later northbound traffic was moved over.
“It went phenomenally well,” said Judy Wagner, Missouri Department of Transportation area engineer. “We were able to get the striping down Saturday which eased a lot of the hard work on Monday.”
State, federal and local officials from both sides of the Missouri River took part in a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on the bridge Saturday, Dec. 1.
Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy was the first person to drive over the bridge after it officially opened Monday.
Wagner reminded motorists to travel the speed limit because the connections from the bridge to the roadway on both sides of the bridge are temporary.
“That is temporary asphalt at the connections, so people need to definitely drive the speed limit, or less,” she said.
The speed limit is 30 mph from the center of the bridge into Washington, in both directions; and 40 mph on the Warren County side of the bridge.
According to Wagner, the next step is switching utilities to the new bridge in preparation of the demolition of the old bridge. She noted the Washington School District utilities will be moved while the district is on winter break.
“The next big milestone is the blast,” she said. “We will coordinate getting the utilities off the old bridge to blow it up.”
Wagner said imploding the old bridge could occur in February or March. She explained the company subcontracted to blast the bridge was purchased by a new company, so the blast plan may be altered.
Plans call for salvageable pieces to be removed from the bridge. Then, once the bridge is imploded, pieces will be removed from the Missouri River.
The $63 million bridge is 2,560 feet long and located just to the west — upstream — from the old 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 city, is at the center bridge pier.
The contractor, Alberici Constructors, began work in August 2016.
The new bridge, designed by HDR, Inc., has a 80- to 100-year life span with limited maintenance and a variety of unique enhancements, including variable depth, haunched steel girders and fluted bridge piers with architectural reveals.