An idea has been advanced to save the Missouri River bridge pier that is on land on the south side of the river at Washington. It would be a memorial to the old bridge that is going to be replaced by a new structure. It is evident there is considerable nostalgia about the old bridge that is nearing its 80th birthday.
With landscaping and other additions, it could be made into an attractive memorial as shown in a sketch in the Weekend Missourian. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has given the city until June 2014 to decide if it wants to have any parts of the old bridge.
The Washington Historic Preservation Commission is open to the bridge pier memorial idea. The city parks department director believes it is feasible to turn the old concrete pier into a memorial. The special Washington Bridge Committee is open to the idea.
A concern is that the pier is just 23 feet from the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. It is on Union Pacific right of way. The city will contact Union Pacific officials about a possible lease and whether the location so close to the tracks would create a problem. It’s likely the railroad would require a fence be erected as a safety precaution.
The site is quite visible from the Rotary Riverfront Trail. In fact, to reach the memorial, the trial would be the only reasonable access.
To move the pier so more people could view it would be too costly. That is not a practical option.
As in most projects such as this, it comes down to money — where would it come from to establish the memorial? MoDOT doesn’t have the funds to help pay the cost. The money probably would have to be raised locally. But the project would not have to be immediate. As long as the pier is saved, completing the project could be done sometime in the future.
Of all the ideas expressed, the pier memorial seems to be the most practical.