Delays on a safety feature means the Bicentennial Bridge won't open this month as planned.
City Engineer David Bange said the cage, which will go over the section of the bridge above the Union Pacific railroad tracks, is still being made.
Bange said earliest the bridge could be open is Thanksgiving, but the delay could be longer. Previously, the city planned to have a ribbon cutting and open the bridge later this month.
"The last time I had a conversation with the contractor about the date, Thanksgiving was kind of thrown out there as the idea of when that would be done," he said. "That was three weeks ago. No one has confirmed, or denied, that is still a possibility.
The cage comprises a 10-foot-tall fence, which will have art panels on it, along with a roof.
"That was a requirement of the railroad," Bange said. "So people wouldn't, I guess, throw stuff or otherwise get stuff onto the railroad tracks."
The delay comes down to an issue about the pricing of the steel to build the cage, he said. The contractor, Phillips Hardy Inc., and the subcontractor had to work out the pricing before construction of the cage began.
The cage needs to be fabricated, Bange said, which has now started. Once fabricated, it can be built and set into place.
"They're figuring two weeks or so to actually build it, once it's all been fabricated and painted," he said.
This hasn't changed the budget for the process, Bange said.
Construction of the $4.9 million bridge started in February. It will stretch from next to the Capitol to Adrian's Island — which is a 30-acre piece of land on the other side of the Union Pacific railroad tracks from the mainland of Jefferson City.
Adrian's Island will become a park with nature trails, a giant chess board and seating areas.
The $442,269 contract for the park construction includes the landscaping, vegetation, trails and concrete paths for the park. It will be paid through the Parks Capital Improvement Sales Tax, which has been saving money for creating a park on Adrian's Island.
Bange said part of building the park is now delayed as well.
In order to get the cage in place, Phillips Hardy crews need to use a large crane, he said.
The crane is on the island and was used for other parts of the project. However, once the cage is in place, the crane will need to go to the other end of the island to cross the railroad tracks.
Bange said that means Phillips Hardy won't be able to complete all the trails on the island until after the cage is in place. That way, removing the crane won't damage them.
"They've gotten quite a bit of material hauled in over the last week or so, grading, but we haven't actually started on any of the trails or anything out there," Bange said. "We're still working on finishing the little trail that comes up to the Senate garage driveway (from the bridge)."
The park will also include restrooms and a pavilion, which the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department is bidding out.
Despite the weather getting colder, Bange said he isn't particularly worried about that causing any major delays with the bridge itself.
He said snow may cause some delay to finish the trails if the weather gets cold enough and the crews would need to wait for a group of warmer days to finish it.
"You can feel pretty safe that if you've finished the project before Thanksgiving that there's really not going to be any particular issues," he said. "After Thanksgiving, usually the weather is wetter and it could be on the colder side by that point in time. If you're looking to try to finish a construction project, you better have that sort of wrapped up at Thanksgiving time. But that's not a hard date."