By Dianne Sudbrock
A large crowd of spectators and numerous dignitaries attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Route 47 Bridge over the Missouri River at Washington on August 12, 2016. Among those present were Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Chairman Greg Smith, MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna, Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy, U.S. Congressman Blaine Luetekemeyer, various State Senators and Representatives, Franklin and Warren County officials, members of the Washington Bridge Committee, Washington City Council members, and more.
Governor Nixon, in his address, said “This is a great day for Washington and for the economy of this region...It has been said, and I agree that ‘We can’t have first rate American communities with third rate infrastructure’…and as you know, Washington is a first rate community…Today’s groundbreaking continues Washington’s ongoing commitment to future economic growth.”
Bob Zick, Chairman of the Washington Bridget Committee, thanked former Washington Mayor Dick Straatmann and current Mayor Sandy Lucy for their cooperation and encouragement; all former and present members of Hwy. 47 Bridge Committee, and the folks at MoDOT, especially the Franklin County Area Engineer for MoDOT, Judy Wagner, saying, “We’re really lucky to have her as an ally and friend.” Zick thanked other elected officials including those in Washington, D.C. for their efforts to get funding, plus the engineers, designers, and other professionals who worked on the project, and the East West Gateway and Booneslick Regional Planning Commissions.
Zick also thanked the Washington Missourian newspaper for keeping the issue in front of the public. “We are very lucky to have a great newspaper in our community,” he said. Zick said everyone banded together, including local children who raised nearly $1400 in pennies for the project. “That local participation was a big factor,” he said.
Zick said he’s confident the new bridge will become a symbol of the heritage and progress of our region for the next few generations the same way we’re proud of the existing bridge and what it has meant to our community. Zick said he’s looking forward to standing on the overlook and watching the setting sun bathe the entire city and the river in that glowing red light.
Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer said in his remarks that whenever Zick came to his office, to help make his point, he would bring pieces that had fallen off the bridge. Luetkemeyer asked Zick at the ceremony, “What are we doing sitting underneath the bridge today?!”
Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy talked about the history of the bridge and introduced four people who were at the opening of the existing bridge in 1936. Dottie Bolzenius grew up in Augusta and has many stories about the bridge. Jim Feltman, Sr. was 11 years old when the bridge opened in 1936 and was the first person to ride a bicycle across the bridge; he also claims the first car to cross the bridge was a Chevrolet. Leland Nadler of Augusta – a locally known fiddle player and long time bus driver – made many a trip back and forth across the bridge. Geri Novak of Washington remembers when the existing bridge was built and has photos of the construction.
Mayor Lucy said, “Today we are making history again,” and “Building a bridge of this magnitude is a symbol of hope for our community.” She applauded the community, including the children, and attributed the successful funding of the bridge to building relationships. She commended Bob Zick for “Leaving no stone unturned in his efforts.” Mayor Lucy also welcomed the contractor, Alberici Constructors, Inc. to Washington saying, “We are known for our friendliness, hospitality and strong work ethic. We look forward to becoming partners with you and your team.”
Judy Wagner, MoDOT Area Engineer for Franklin County will oversee the project for MoDOT, and served as Master of Ceremonies. Wagner was complimented by several of the speakers during the program for her role in bringing this project to fruition, including MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna who said “The manner in which she serves is an example to all of MoDot.”
The existing bridge was built by the City of Washington and was originally a toll bridge. It took 10 years from the first planning meeting in 1926 until the bridge opened in 1936. In 1951, when the financing for the bridge was paid off, the City of Washington transferred ownership and responsibility for the maintenance of the bridge to the Missouri Department of Transportation.
The new $60M bridge, designed by HDR, Inc. will have a 100-year life span with limited maintenance and a variety of enhancements. It will be built just a few feet west (upstream) of the existing bridge and will feature two 12-foot driving lanes, two 10-foot shoulders, a walking/biking path and a center overlook on the west side. It is scheduled to open in late 2018, after which the existing bridge will be dismantled. No major traffic impacts are expected until construction is nearly complete and the new driving lanes are tied into the existing roadway.
MoDOT has posted several photos of the groundbreaking at https://www.flickr.com/photos/modot_stl_photos/sets/72157671446366872
Over 20 people shared in the shoveling at the official groundbreaking ceremony
for the new Route 47 Bridge, including some local children and senior citizens.
Governor Jay Nixon Addresses the Crowd at the Groundbreaking.
The groundbreaking was held directly under
the existing bridge, along the Riverfront Trail.
The existing bridge, built in 1936, is a community icon.