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Spring River bridge in Lawrence County, Missouri

Lawrence County Commission opened bids June 1, 2016, on replacement of this bridge over Spring River at V and Lawrence 2110, between Stotts City and Mt. Vernon.

Better bridges in Lawrence County   Released 5-26-16


UPDATE: Lawrence County Commission voted June 1, 2016, to accept the low bid of $619,750 from Hartman Construction for the next BRO bridge replacement project. Another contractor bid $809,358.




Lawrence County is making progress in its efforts to improve bridges across the county. The latest Missouri Department of Transportation inspection reveals that locally maintained bridges have improved “considerably” overall, according to Presiding Commissioner Sam Goodman.


Thirty-nine of the 126 bridges MoDOT inspected were placed on its deficiencies list, but none were rated lower than 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst). Those bridges with worse deficiencies have all been rehabilitated or replaced over the years. (MoDOT only inspects bridges with openings of 20 feet or greater.)

In the most recent report, only one bridge was rated 4 in the main areas related to condition: substructure, superstructure, deck and culvert. That bridge, 3440006 in Vineyard Road District, was built over Dry Hollow on Lawrence 2100 back in 1920 and is lightly traveled. County commissioners are discussing options on repairs.

MoDOT’s list identifies structural deficiencies, along with other concerns like the condition of the deck and the bridge’s alignment with the road.

 “Low ratings put them on this list. The most important is the substructure,” said Goodman.

County commissioners and road districts use the inspections to help them prioritize bridge repairs and replacement projects. But that’s just part of it.

“Traffic counts play into it, too,” said Goodman.

And commissioners go on-site to see conditions and possible solutions for themselves.

MoDOT uses the list to identify bridges that might be eligible for federal funds through the Off-System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program (BRO).

Since the program’s inception in 1979, Lawrence County has received over $3 million in federal funds to replace approximately two dozen county bridges, estimated Joe Ruscha, eastern commissioner.

The BRO program provides up to 80 percent of costs on a project. Initially, the county paid its 20 percent share using cash. However, now when the county or a road district improves or replaces other deficient bridges on their own, the county can count that money as “soft match” on its share of a BRO project. With careful managing, a BRO bridge can then be replaced with little or no additional outlay of local taxes.

While the reduction in the number of deficient bridges is good news, there is a downside. Having fewer seriously deficient bridges on the list means the amount of federal funds available goes down at the same time costs are going up.

On June 1, the county commission will open bids on what it anticipates will be its most expensive bridge to date.

The bridge, located between Stotts City and Mt. Vernon at V and Lawrence 2110, spans Spring River.

“It gets flooded all the time, and it’s a busy road,” said Ruscha.

It’s a low bridge, explained Western District Commissioner David Botts. And the alignment with the road also needs to be improved, said Goodman.

 “It’s by far the most expensive,” said Ruscha. The preliminary estimate exceeds $600,000.

The county just finished replacing a bridge over Spring River between Hoberg and Verona on Lawrence 2175 in the Verona Road District through the BRO program. Aurora and Mt. Vernon road districts recently replaced bridges outside the BRO program. The county commission was able to secure soft match for those, Goodman said.

For more information, contact the Lawrence County Commission, 417-466-3666.

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