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State officials are warning pedestrians and bicyclists to stay off the new Highway 47 bridge construction site.

That warning comes after two people riding bicycles were ordered off the Missouri River bridge Sunday.

Tim Hellebusch, Missouri Department of Transportation resident engineer for the project, told The Missourian violators will be prosecuted, or even worse, they could be severely injured.

“It is off-limits with the possibility of prosecution,” he said.

“The final safety features are not installed,” Hellebusch added. “It is safe for workers but not for the traveling public.”

In Sunday’s case, the bicyclists lifted rope on the Warren County side of the bridge and were almost halfway across the structure when Hellebusch was notified. He contacted police who responded to the scene.

According to Hellebusch, the construction site is roped off and there are signs indicating the areas that are not accessible to the public.

He said areas on both sides of the river have been tempting to trespassers who have been to the site after hours.

“The more we get done the braver they are getting,” Hellebusch said.

Opening Date

To legally access the bridge, people will have to wait until the ribbon-cutting ceremony slated for Saturday, Dec. 1, at 3 p.m.

Officials from MoDOT, the city of Washington and Warren County are continuing plans for the ceremony, which include an opportunity for the public to walk on the new bridge before it opens to traffic.

There also may be a bridge illuminating ceremony, and sometime in 2019, possibly in the spring, a third ceremony will be held when the old bridge is demolished.

Scope of Work

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.

The contractor for the $63 million bridge project is Alberici Constructors.

Demolition

Alberici will own the current bridge after the new structure is completed.

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.

Once the new bridge is opened, crews will work to remove salvageable pieces before the current bridge is imploded into the Missouri River.

After the old bridge is taken down, paths, walking paths and parking planned for below the bridge will be opened.