Construction on $18 million I-70 bridges begins


Work on an $18 million replacemen  of three Columbia bridges on Interstate 70 began Monday after months of design and planning by the Missouri Department of Transportation, Columbia contractor Emery Sapp and Sons and Parsons Transportation Group.

The project is expected to be completed by October 2016. It will place new I-70 bridges at Range Line Street, Garth Avenue and Business Loop 70.

At a news conference Monday morning, Emery Sapp and Sons project manager Chip Jones outlined the design-build method that the company used to plan the project. It plans to use substructures to build the new bridges and then slide them into place once the old bridges are torn down. The substructures will then be removed.

The department said on a web-based fact sheet about the project that the process is similar to the one used to replace an Interstate 44 bridge over the Gasconade River. A video demonstrating the method appears on the website and below.

The first impact on interstate traffic flow will come later this week when crews place barriers to accommodate construction. The westbound driving lane of Interstate 70 will be closed from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday and from 9 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday, according to a news release from the Highway Department.

I-70 will remain open during the vast majority of the project, but crews will shift traffic to prevent major inconveniences to commuters. Planned closures of the roads affected by the construction include:

  • Business Loop 70 and West Boulevard for 45 days.
  • Range Line Street for 30 days.
  • Garth Avenue for 20 days.
  • Creasy Springs Road for 15 days.

During these road closures, crews  will be working 24 hours a day to ensure the project is done on time. However, they won’t during the rest of the project. Work will stop during special events such as MU football games and the Show-Me State Games.

Travis Koestner, assistant district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Central District, emphasized that the main goal of the project is to create a safe job for both workers and commuters.

“During the life of the project, we would like to encourage local traffic to find an alternate route,” Koestner said. “It would really help out the project. The lower the volume of traffic, the safer it is for both workers and commuters.”

The bridges being replaced were built in 1957 and accommodate an average of 80,000 vehicles a day. Although safe for travel, they are in poor condition and need to be replaced.

“Our guys and gals in the maintenance division are doing a good job to keep them in good shape, mostly working at night when people don’t notice, but now they need to be replaced,” Koestner said. “MoDOT has reallocated money from minor projects to make this project a reality. That’s how critical we think it is to replace these bridges.”


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