The Missouri Department of Transportation has reopened the Beaver Creek bridge, near Kissee Mills, in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The bridge, which was built in 1953, was closed to traffic on Friday, Nov. 22 after a routine safety inspection found that the concrete bridge columns that support two of the four girders were severely deteriorated. Once a finalized project plan was put into place, MoDOT originally announced that the bridge wouldn’t reopen until sometime in the middle of next month.
In a Nov. 26 press release, MoDOT officials shared that bridge crews have already shored-up (or supported) the deteriorating bridge and has made the structure safe for travel over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. During the week of Dec. 2 and possibly the week of Dec. 9, the bridge will be reduced down to one-lane as crews work to make permanent repairs to the bridge.
MoDOT Southwest District Bridge Engineer Matt Geiger explained in a recent interview what it will take to make the repairs to the bridge.
“We’re going to use steel members to shore-up ( or support) the girders, because it’s kind of in a bad location. It’s 30 or 40 feet above the water and the water’s up again. So we just can’t work from the ground and shore everything up,” Geiger said. “We’re going to have to lay equipment across the top to shore across the top of the bridge to go from one steel span to the next in order to support it. Then we’re going to jack hammer all of the rest of the bad concrete out from under the girder bearing areas and then we’ll pour some new concrete back in there with the additional rebar.”
MoDOT inspects a bridge every 24 months unless otherwise scheduled. Geiger explained that there was no signs of deterioration when the Beaver Creek Bridge was inspected two years ago.
“It was an unusual case,” he said. “This one went from being in pretty good shape to really bad real quick.”
As far as the cause of the rapid deterioration, Geiger said he’s not exactly sure what caused it, but he has a couple theories.
“I’m pretty sure it’s just freeze/thaw cycles, moisture leaking through the expansion joints, leaking through the deck and just having water getting through cracks and freeze/thaw cycles leading to the concrete to deteriorate and bust out,” Geiger said. “It’s kind of an unusual location where we don’t typically see this, but this is the important reason why we do the inspections.”
While the bridge was closed, the approximately 2,000 drivers that use the bridge on a daily basis were forced to use Missouri Routes 125 and 76 to detour around the bridge.
Geiger said that he expects the repairs being made to the bridge will last several years. He added that officials are already looking into long-term plans for a bridge replacement that could take place in three to six years from now.
When the bridge is reduced down to one lane traffic, driver should expect delays. Visit modot.org.