Commission looking at Fly Creek Bridge as next in line for BRO project replacement

Laura Schiermeier
Staff Writer

County Commission looking at Fly Creek Bridge as next in line for BRO project replacement 

About three years after completion of the Off-System Bridge Replacement of Rehabilitation (BRO) bridge was completed on the east side of the county, it now is time to decide and accumulate federal funds through the program to replace an old, deficient bridge on the west of the county.

MoDOT’s Kim Tipton, who is a Transportation Planning Coordinator, met with the Maries County Commission last Thursday to discuss getting the process started that culminates in replacing an old bridge.

Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre said right now he is looking at replacing the old Works Progress Administration (WPA) bridge over Fly Creek on MCR 213. This WPA bridge is at the site where Ballpark Road becomes MCR 213 and it was built in the 1930s by local men who received payment for their labors through the federal government during the Great Depression. There are several of these old bridges in the county and they are past or coming to the end of their lifespan as viable bridges. MoDOT had the bridge inspected and noted the three span concrete deck girder bridge has major damage to the east bank protection and recommended repairing the concrete apron at the east abutment.

Tipton told the commissioners there have been changes in the BRO program since the last time they used it to replace the bridge on the east side of the county. These changes require even more documentation and paperwork, which makes the process harder. Hoops have to be jumped through such as for any in-kind labor and equipment match the county has used each time in the past. Now the county must prove that the work done by local forces, in this case the road district crew, is cheaper than what a contractor will do it for. Tipton said this has to be proven on paper. Other factors in the process will require working with an engineering company on utility location, right-of-way aspects, environmental study, and of course the local match is a big question, she said. 

Right now, Maries County has $282,000 built up in its BRO program fund pool, plus a soft match of about $26,000. Tipton told them the county gets an additional $93,000 per year added to this pool for the purpose of replacing bridges on the off-road system. This is federal money managed by MoDOT. It takes several years for the county’s BRO money to build up to be enough to cover the cost of replacing a bridge. 

The last BRO bridge replacement project was in Road Two when a large, long spanned bridge was replaced over the Dry Fork on MCR 409 for over $400,000. Fagre said the Fly Creek Bridge is not as large as that bridge. However, it is a high-traffic bridge. Fagre said already he has contacted Scott Vogler of MECO Engineering who is going to go look at the bridge and give a preliminary statement to the county commission about it. 

Fagre asked Tipton about the county’s in-kind match and Tipton told him about the reporting and documentation changes and needing to prove the county can do it cheaper. Fagre said he may just plan to hold back some money in the road district to build up some funds to pay a contractor to haul gravel rather than the road crew doing it. All of the labor, equipment and material must be documented and Fagre said in the past he’s had to have a road worker at the bridge replacement site nearly full time just to ensure the documentation is done properly. It is no small thing. 

At this point, this project is about two to three years away as the process and accumulating adequate BRO funds takes that long. Once all is in place, construction takes a few months. Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel said the last BRO Bridge project was completed in about 45 construction days.

Fagre said there will be some inconvenience during construction for locals who live along the road as the detour is about eight to ten miles. He asked Tipton about the chance of making a temporary crossing through the creek for local people and for the construction contractor to get in and out. Tipton said it can be looked at by the engineer and it will add to the costs. She said in the long run, the people who use the bridge will appreciate the new one.