Bridges are going up throughout Audrain County. A new 24-foot bridge on County Road 716 has been completed about a mile east of Benton City, and another one just a few hundred feet up the road, is nearing completion. This is the third bridge built this year and county commissioners say it's only the beginning of their ongoing effort to have sound, safe bridges to better serve the county.
County Road and Bridge crews last week were working on County Road 716, just outside the city limits of Benton City, constructing a 94-foot bridge. Completion of that bridge is expected in early September and detour routes are suggested until further notice.
Audrain County Commissioner Steve Hobbs said more county-built bridges are scheduled for construction, and that the county has applied for $400,000 in federal funding through the Bridge Replacement "Off System" (BRO) program to build three more.
"Today, bridges in the county are funded through the remains of the bridge trust fund that was established years ago. We are no longer collecting that tax for the bridge trust fund, but we still have money in that account that we're using for cost share matches on our bridges to pay our bridge crew," Hobbs explained. "Now our money flows into general revenue and in the future we'll be paying those funds out of general revenue, and we still have a substantial amount in the fund."
Hobbs said they have two more bridges "in the hopper" for county crews to build, and three more that have been engineered as BRO projects. Audrain County currently has 480 square miles of gravel roads, approximately 230 big bridges and 150 bridges under 20 feet that need to be replaced.
"Safe bridges are very important in a community," Hobbs said. "They provide safe crossings for school buses, semi-trucks moving grain and farmers moving big, heavy equipment. Bridges also promote commerce and provide safe transportation for farm to market activities, as well as eliminate flood water concerns."
Since January, the county has built a new bridge on County Road 480 (completed in June), and the pair of bridges on County Road 716. Other bridge replacement projects being planned include:
• County Bridge No. 178 (located on County Road 980 at the county line, east of DD, 11/4 miles).
• County Bridge No. 023 (located at the corner of County Road 116 and County Road 165, east of Hwy. Y, 3/4 miles down in Amish country).
• BRO Bridge No. 484 (located on Cuivre River on County Road 625, east of Hwy. 54, southeast of Laddonia). This 113-foot structure is pending approval for federal funding. Construction could start as early as Spring 2013.
• BRO Bridge No. 266 (located in the Western District on County Road 919, just north of Hwy. D. This 80-foot structure is pending approval for federal funding.
• BRO Bridge No. 363: This project is still being examined to determine if it qualifies as a BRO project. Still in the early planning stages. Unsure when the project will start. That decision is up to the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Page 2 of 2 - "We're really proud of the efforts of Audrain County in replacing bridges around the county, and really proud of the crews and how quickly they are putting these structures in place," Hobbs lauded. "The bridge program has come a long way, and still has a long way to go."