It’s still “iffy” but right now the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) plans to open the new Highway 47 bridge over the Missouri River Saturday, Dec. 1. The date earlier was announced as Dec. 3. Saturday is a much better day.
It’s “iffy” because no one knows if the weather will delay work and force the opening to be at a later date.
Anyway, according to MoDOT Area Engineer Judy Wagner, Dec. 1 is the tentative date to cut the ribbon to officially open the bridge. The ceremony would be at 3 p.m.
Officials from MoDOT, the city of Washington and Warren County are planning the opening event. Right now, they’re thinking about allowing walking traffic to cross the new $63 million structure first and then open it to vehicular traffic. That’s a good idea.
We thought it was time to look back at issues of The Missourian to learn how officials handled the official opening of the present bridge May 28, 1936. Actually, the first car to be driven over the bridge was a new Hudson sedan operated by O.F. Schulte, a civic leader who played a major role in obtaining the bridge. His passengers were: Mayor F. J. Ruether, L. J. Severdrup (bridge designer, engineer), his wife and daughter, G. Wood-Smith, Lester H. Fackiner and Arthur Rumpelt. This event occurred in April 1936, when the bridge was being painted and was not open to the public.
Of note is in the city election in April 1936; Mayor Ruether was re-elected by 29 votes. He defeated W. H. Rau.
In June 1934, Mayor Ruether broke a bottle of beer on a marker disignating the location of the bridge and the start of construction of the bridge. Efforts to obtain a bridge actually began in 1927. There were setbacks along the way before actual construction began in 1934.
A number of committees were formed in making plans for the bridge opening in 1936. The members were: Banquet, E. E. Rush, A. C. Rumpelt and D. N. Asel; Dance and Music, Henry Tibbe;
Advertising, Eldon Miller, Arthur Rusche and Pauline Hubbert; Parade, Walter Otto, Ben Boyer and R. H. Ohlson; Reception, Randolph Schaper,J. H. Dickbrader and E.H. Otto;
Entertainment, B. J. Hungate; Decoration, A. B. Cluster and L. G. Kruel; Traffic and Police, Edw. Breckenkamp, Jos. Inter and Geo. Peters; Goodwill Tour, Fred Mauntel;
Luncheon, D. N. Asel; Ice Cream and Candy, L. G. Kruel; Refreshments, Jul. Hibbeler; Speakers, H. A. Krog, F. J. Ruether and J. N. McClure (owner and editor ofThe Missourian); Programs, J. N. McClure; and Finance, O. F. Schulte.
It is evident that the planning committees were well organized. Those names include many civic leaders at that time in Washington.
In early May 1936, the city council authorized the purchase of two toll collector machines, and out of a field of 53 applicants, hired nine employees to man the toll station.
More later on the opening of the 2018 bridge.