A summit on regional bridge safety was conducted by the City of Sikeston on Tuesday, Sept. 18. More than 150 people attended as representatives from Missouri and Kentucky discussed the heavily traveled infrastructure within our region. Of particular concern was the condition of the US-60 and US-51 bridges connecting Missouri and Kentucky.
During this meeting a number of alarming statistics regarding this heavily traveled thoroughfare came to light. The US-60 Bridge was constructed in 1929. It has a sufficiency rating of 18 percent on a scale of zero to 100 -- the lowest of any bridge crossing the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Minneapolis. Built to 1929 standards, its total deck width is only 20 feet. Today, a single semi-truck measures nearly 10 feet across.
The area's business and industrial sector were represented at this meeting by Noranda Aluminum, Pullen Brothers Trucking and Burch Food Services. Each shared their experiences regarding the dangers the bridge presents to their personnel and equipment. As a result of the US-60 Bridge's inadequacies, many of these firms are forced to re-route their business traffic -- driving up labor and operating costs.
I believe New Madrid Mayor Donnie Brown did an excellent job of summarizing our situation. Today the US-60 Bridge has an 18 percent sufficiency rating. It is not going to improve! Do we want to chance the safety of your family or co-workers by doing nothing? To ensure the safety of area travelers and continued economic development of this region it is necessary that immediate action be taken to replace the existing bridges.
I would like to thank Missouri Representative Ellen Brandom, Kentucky Representative J.R. Gray, Trent T. Summers of Gov. Matt Blunt's office and Lloyd Smith of U.S. Representative JoAnn Emerson's office who were in attendance and expressed a willingness to help in this initiative. I encourage the residents of the Bootheel and Kentucky to be actively involved in keeping attention on this vital link in our economy, and urging our transportation officials to proceed with the studies needed to construct a new bridge.
For more information or to assist in this effort please contact me or Ed Dust of the Sikeston Department of Economic Development at (573) 471-2780.
Michael G. Marshall
Mayor, City of Sikeston