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Bridge project OK'd for a priority boost

Friday, March 16, 2012

CHARLESTON -- Mississippi County has the green light from MoDOT to bump up a bridge replacement project.

During the regular County Commission meeting Thursday, Presiding County Commissioner Carlin Bennett said the county has received documents from the Missouri Department of Transportation approving the replacement of a bridge over Wilkerson Ditch on County Road 521 with the county's Off-System Bridge Replacement Program allocations.

"We have reviewed the program requirements and find this structure eligible for BRO funding," advised Elquin Auala, off system transportation project designer for MoDOT, in a March 12 letter to county officials. "It is programmed for preliminary engineering in 2012 and construction in 2012 due to 'hardship consideration.'"

Often referred to as the BRO program, this program uses Federal Highway Administration funds routed through MoDOT based on a county's total number of bridges and the number of those that are deficient to replace county bridges.

County officials were working with Dennis Cox, an engineer for Smith and Company of Poplar Bluff, on a BRO project to replace a bridge on County Road 326 until the bridge on 521 was closed by a MoDOT inspector.

During the March 1 County Commission meeting, commissioners decided to request the 326 bridge replacement project be put on hold and BRO funding be used to replace the closed bridge.

Replacing the bridge on County Road 521 was determined to be a more urgent need than 326 as the 326 bridge is still open and there are significant detours for motorists due to the closure of the 521 bridge.

Plans are to "do it fast," Bennett said. Based on other projects, he predicted a contractor can "probably get it done in about six weeks. It will take longer to get the money in place than to get it built."

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