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State transportation officials are expecting continued delays in the completion of the Highway 47 bridge over the Missouri River.

That’s according to Stephen P. O’Connor, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) area engineer, who told the Washington Area Highway and Transportation Committee Monday the deadline for the bridge project was pushed back two more weeks.

The newest deadline is Dec. 17, he said. Which is two weeks later than the previous deadline of Dec. 3.

“The water keeps coming up so it is falling behind,” O’Connor said.

This is the third time the project deadline has been pushed back. 

In August, the completion date was delayed to exactly one year after its grand opening ceremony, Dec. 3, due to high river levels and continued rain.

A grand opening ceremony for the $63 million bridge was held Dec. 1, 2018. Traffic began crossing the span two days later.

Prior to the August extension, the project deadline had been Sept. 5. 

There are contingencies built into the contract between the state and Alberici Constructors that allow for the project deadline to be changed due to river levels and precipitation. 

It is plausible that the deadline could be pushed back even further into the year, or in 2020.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still is releasing massive amounts of water from upstream dams to make reservoirs space for next spring’s flooding, the Associated Press reported. The Corps said it has been releasing more than twice the normal amount of water from most of the dams along the river and will likely continue at that pace into mid-December.

According to the AP, this year has been exceptionally wet in the Missouri River basin, and the amount of water flowing down the river through the year is expected to match the 2011 record of 61 million acre-feet — that is why the releases must remain high until the river freezes over in winter.

Old Bridge

During the meeting, the question was raised if the old bridge has completely been removed from the river.

Steve Sullentrup, Washington councilman and transportation committee member, noted that there still are two piers still in the water from the old Highway 47 bridge. One pier is located near the south bank of the river and the other near the north bank.

O’Connor added that crews still need to remove the coffer dam on the north side of the river before they do more work on the Warren County side of the bridge. That work includes a “tie in” to the shared use paths. 

Airport Rock

During Mondays meeting, John Nilges, Washington public works director, said the rock used at the bridge construction site for equipment storage won’t be moved to the Washington Regional Airport until river levels drop.

“The rock hinges on MoDOT’s and Alberici’s schedule,” he noted. The river must get below 14 feet before much of the work can be done 

The city entered into an agreement with Alberici to acquire the rock used at the construction site for fill at the airport.

Nilges added that there is more than 10,000 yards, and the city has a place on the airport grounds for all of it. 

He further added that there is no cost to the city to obtain the rock. However, the city may need to rent equipment to work with the rock once it is at the airport property.