Bike bridge picks up speed

It may not look like a bridge right now, but that soon will not be the case for the pedestrian and bike path on the Missouri River bridge.

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Charles Sullivan, resident engineer for MoDOT’s 5th District, is in charge of the project. He said there is still a lot of work that has to be done in order to hit the April 1 deadline.

Sullivan said there are four basic portions of work that are happening at this time. While some continue to work on the system of four towers on the north side of the river that will help users get from the ground to the bridge or the other way around, others will be working to extend the existing fence on the south side out to the bridge. Still others are currently working to create a system of supports underneath the existing bridge to brace the portion that is to come.

But the part with which most observers will identify progress is the installation of platforms that will serve as the actual path for walkers and bikers. Sullivan said, however, the process to actually put those platforms in place is no easy task.

“It’s not as simple as it seems,” Sullivan said. “There is a lot of communication between the (U.S. Army) Corps (of Engineers), the Coast Guard, us at Transportation, the railroads are involved. There is a lot of communication and coordination, and they are working hard to let everybody know what is going on.”

After the I-beams are fabricated and primed in Fulton, and are painted and attached to the platforms in a yard along the Missouri River, they are ready to be moved by barge and placed on the bridge.

From there, more working parts come into play. Sullivan said that when it comes time to move the loaded barges up the river, it involves a considerable amount of planning between several parties.

In order to make that process smoother, MoDOT officials will run a test route in order to determine how long the process will take to better schedule in the weeks to come.

“The reason we are doing this example of a ‘time trial’ is, when (the barge operator) gets out into the river, he has to let the Coast Guard know where he is going to be, what location in that river he is going to be with respect to the two banks,” Sullivan said.

You’ve got a navigational channel and a non-navigational portion of the channel. If he is in that navigational channel, the Coast Guard wants to know what days he is going to be there and how long he is going to be there.”

Sullivan said he anticipates the process of placing the platforms will happen around the middle of February. And while he does encourage residents who are interested to come out and watch as they work, Sullivan did add that some spots are better than others for viewing.

“We don’t mind people watching, but if they could watch from the Bolivar Street side, that would be better,” Sullivan said. “The highway is just not a good place to watch from or driving slowly kind of impedes other drivers. For the safety of everybody, we are very happy to help you out, but if you are driving, continue to watch the road and drive on across.”

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