- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

LOUISIANA, Mo. (AP) - An old, narrow and deteriorating Mississippi River bridge at Louisiana, Missouri, may finally be replaced within the next few years, following two recent developments.

The Federal Highway Administration last month approved a proposal to build a new Champ Clark Bridge 50 feet south of the existing one in Louisiana, a town of 3,300 residents about 90 miles north of St. Louis, the Quincy (Illinois) Herald-Whig reported (https://bit.ly/22fmonV ).

Meanwhile, the Missouri Department of Transportation included the bridge project in a draft of the state’s five-year plan, moving Missouri closer to coming up with its share of the $60 million cost. A federal grant would cover $10 million of the project, and each state would pay $25 million.

Illinois has already set aside funding for its share.

MoDOT project director Keith Killen said the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission could approve a final version of the five-year plan for 2017 through 2021 in July. Approval would mean the state will earmark funding for the new bridge.

The half-mile-long span, built in 1928, carries U.S. 54 traffic in a rural area of the two states. About 4,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day.

The bridge is among more than 600 across Missouri deemed to be in critical condition. It is too narrow for farm machinery. It had to be shut down last fall while workers replaced more than 1,500 rusted rivets with new bolts. MoDOT closed the span again early this month for emergency repairs to a hole in an expansion joint.

“We dedicate quite a bit of time to keeping this bridge in service and understand how important it is to keep the bridge open for the local residents,” Killen said.

The bridge approach on the Illinois side often floods during periods of high water. The project plan for the new bridge calls for elevating the approach to make shutdown due to flooding less likely.

The bridge is named for James Beauchamp “Champ” Clark, a Pike County, Missouri, congressman who served as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1911 to 1919.

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Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://www.whig.com


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