Old Bend Bridge

Bend Bridge

Franklin County commissioners this week approved a $15,900 contract for determining the environmental impacts for a proposed replacement of the Bend Road bridge.

Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke said the contract with SCI Engineering signifies the first step in moving the project forward.

“If we’re ever going to get federal funding, we have to have all the environmental (work) done,” Gadcke said.

The study will look at environmental impacts “related to displacements, farmland, wetland/water quality, floodplain impacts and analysis, air quality, noise analysis, cultural resources, endangered species and hazardous waste,” according to the commission order.

The federal government requires studies — either in the form of a National Environmental Protection Act study or a categorical exclusion report — for projects given federal funding.

The county had sought funds earlier this year from the federal government in the form of a TIGER, or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, grant.

Commissioner Terry Wilson confirmed what officials had already known since last month — that the county didn’t get the $13.5 million it had sought. Only one community in Missouri — Joplin — received a TIGER grant. The city hit by a tornado last year received $12 million out of the $500 million pool.

The total project is estimated to cost $14.5 million.

With that sort of price tag, county officials know they’ll need help from the state or federal governments — or both.

“Bend Bridge has been an issue talked about for years,” Commissioner Terry Wilson said previously. “We’ve spent quite bit of money on it too.”

Replacing the bridge is the county’s No. 1 priority, according to the Franklin County Long-Range Transportation Plan.

The last time it was inspected, the Bend Road bridge was rated at a 2 on a sufficiency scale of 0-100.

The single-lane, steel truss bridge was built in 1916, according to a placard found on the bridge itself.

It spans about 420 feet and was last rehabilitated 20 years ago.

At that time, the weight limit was increased from eight tons to 25 tons.

Today the bridge is open to one lane of traffic and is the only structurally deficient bridge in the county.

Commissioners have been pushing the project to the East-West Gateway Council of Governments since at least 2000.