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A replacement for the Champ Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River at Louisiana will take at least five years, if the state of Missouri has the money to build it.
That was the message from MoDOT Project Manager Keith Killen at a informal, public input meeting about the proposed project.
The current environmental process will take two years to complete and will decide the new bridge’s location, Killen said.
MoDOT is currently taking ideas for locations and expects several possible sites to emerge. But most things are pointing to it being rebuilt on the same site, Killen said.
“We don’t want to buy a lot of hotels and stores,” to add to the cost projected to be between $70 million and $100 million. Anything away from that location becomes more expensive because of land purchases and pavement relocation,” Killen said. “We’ll come up with several locations and then narrow it down to two or three,” Killen said.
The area around the bridge approach in Illinois is prone to flooding and creates an opening in the Sny Levee. That levee could be raised so the highway would clear the low area, Killen said.
Illinois and Missouri will share the cost of the bridge and levee project 50-50, Killen said.
The bridge project is also now second on the state’s priority list behind the Hwy. 47 bridge over the Missouri River at Washington, Killen said.
The 84-year-old bridge is also considered too narrow at 20 feet to be safe for modern vehicles and agriculture equipment, according to MoDOT literature. The current minimum standard for a large bridge is 28 feet wide.
Residents on both sides of the river have witnessed many accidents on the span the past 40 years.
The current 3,635 foot bridge handles 4,140 vehicles on a daily average and 15 percent of them are trucks, according to MoDOT figures. It has cost the state $6 million to maintain it over the past six years.
“As we go along, it won’t get any cheaper to maintain,” Killen said.
Existing physical constraints for the new bridge include the historic railroad bridge, the Two Rivers Marina, Lighthouse Inn restaurant and Army Corps access to the river from there, Killen said.
Environmental concerns include bald eagles which are protected by law, the endangered Indiana Bat and river mussels, Killen said.
After the state completes the environmental assessment, it will probably be two to four years before a new bridge is completed, Killen said.
To add input on the project and to learn more about it, log on to MoDOT’s new website called www.champclarkbridge.com
Article courtesy of Dave Moller, Louisiana Press-Journal.