LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. - The new Hurricane Deck Bridge across the main channel of the lake is set for opening Sept. 10, more than three months ahead of the originally scheduled date of Dec. 30.
Last week, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) announced in a press release that a ceremony for the new bridge, which carries Missouri 5 across the lake near Sunrise Beach, is set for 10 a.m. Saturday.
MoDOT is planning a large celebration for the opening, including a ribbon-cutting, parade, fireworks, a demonstration by the Sunrise Beach fireboat and a display of customized and antique cars by the Laurie-Sunrise Beach Rotary Club.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony on the bridge. Parking will be available at the Deepwater Inn Motel, located at 11609 Route 5 in Sunrise Beach. Shuttle service to the bridge will begin at 9 a.m.
Completion of the bridge brings to a close a MoDOT project that has replaced all four of the original bridges that were built when the Osage River was dammed in the 1930s.
The Grand Glaize bridge was the first of those bridges to be replaced in 1984. At that time, a two-lane span was built to carry U.S. 54 over the lake in Osage Beach. In 1995, a second two-lane span was built alongside the first structure when MoDOT completed widening U,S, 54 to four lanes all the way from Mexico to Camdenton.
Two years ago, an extra lane was added to each of the spans as part of a project to build the Highway 54 Expressway through Osage Beach. Now both the east and west spans of the Grand Glaize bridge carry three lanes of traffic. The two inside lanes serve drivers using the U.S. 54 Expressway and the outside lane serves drivers using the Osage Beach Parkway through the town's business district.
The second part of that bridge replacement project involved building a new U.S. 54 span across the Little Niangua arm of the lake, west of Camdenton. That bridge opened to traffic in the early 2000s, while a second new bridge carrying Missouri 5 across the Big Niangua arm of the lake was completed a few years later.
The old Hurricane Deck Bridge was built in 1936. It was the last truss-arch style bridge still in MoDOT's inventory. The truss-arch design is the same as that of the Interstate 35 bridge that collapsed near Minneapolis, Minn., in 2007, killing 35 people and injuring 145.
Originally, MoDOT had planned to refurbish the old bridge and continue using it. But after the Minneapolis disaster, the decision was made to completely replace the aging structure with a different design.
The new Hurricane Deck bridge was built just 3 feet east of the old bridge, which has remained open to traffic since the project began in May 2012. Plans call for the old bridge to be dismantled and removed during the spring of 2014.
MoDOT Central District engineer Dave Silvester is encouraging the public to come out and enjoy the festivities marking the opening of the new span.
"We're looking forward to having a big celebration for one of the last big bridge projects in the state," he said. "We'll observe the history of the old bridge, and we'll celebrate the fact that the new bridge will make travel much safer and less congested in the area."