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story.lead_photo.caption Operators, steel workers and laborers from Phillips Hardy worked in unison Monday, July 19, 2021, to set the next section of steel bridge trusses for the Bicentennial Bridge to Adrian's Island along the Missouri River in Jefferson City. This length is the second to last to be set, with the next piece being 190 feet in length to span the multiple sets of railroad tracks. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

As construction workers gradually placed another piece of the Bicentennial Bridge on Monday, the next hurdle is already on the horizon.

Workers installed a 165-foot steel girder of the bridge Monday, which now hangs right next to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks the bridge crosses.

They still need to install a cap on the support pillar, on the south side of the bridge, before the 169-foot piece that crosses the tracks can be placed.

Work on the $3.5 million bridge, which will stretch from near the state Capitol to Adrian's Island, began in February.

Adrian's Island is an area of about 30 acres of wetland and woods between the Missouri River and the railroad, running about a mile from the Capitol to the Missouri State Penitentiary.

Although it is called an island, it is only separated from the "mainland" by the railroad tracks.

City Engineer David Bange said the soonest the next piece could go up would be next week since the cap needs a full week to set before the steel can go on it.

Construction company Phillips Hardy Inc. is discussing with railroad officials the plan to install the piece. Since it goes over the tracks, it must be installed when the tracks aren't in use.

"The contractor has submitted a couple different versions of that plan over these past months, but this particular version of the plan they submitted, I believe, last Wednesday," Bange said. "So the railroad is still reviewing the plan."

Bange said he's not holding his breath for it to be installed next week because everything must line up right for it to happen that quickly.

The city's hope was for the bridge to be in place before the bicentennial celebrations Aug. 10, but Bange said he's losing hope it can be done.

"My hope has always been to have the girders across the railroad tracks before the bicentennial celebration so that you don't have to imagine where the bridge is going to be anymore," he said. "You could actually see the girders and you wouldn't have to imagine, you can see it. But I'm beginning to lose hope for that, actually."

This has been an ongoing battle, Bange said, to determine the best way and time to install the piece over the tracks since it involves getting multiple agencies on board with the same plan at the same time.

Once the girders are in place, the crew still needs to place concrete over them along with the railings and other decorative pieces.

Meanwhile, a related project near the bridge is closer to completion.

The Gold Star Families Memorial is scheduled to be placed today, which Bange said will take several hours.

The monument will be near the south entrance of the bridge, next to the Veterans Memorial on the Capitol grounds. Gold Star Families are those who have lost an immediate family member to military service.

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