The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

October 30, 2011

Jo Ellis: State gearing up to replace bridge at Carthage door

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Residents living east of Carthage who access the city on Highway 96 will have to decide on an alternative route — but not until late next spring or early summer.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is replacing the Spring River bridge, which is the major northeast entrance to Carthage. The bridge was built in 1953, when Highway 96 was constructed to replace the old Highway 66 approach to the city.

Angela Eden, senior community relations specialist for MoDOT’s District 7, said the existing bridge “has deteriorated and is not in good condition.”

In the department’s September 2010 inspection report, it was listed as being in “serious condition.” The old bridge will be removed before any construction begins.

A contract will be awarded in March. Eden said normally it takes 30 to 60 days after the contract is awarded before construction can start.

It will cost an estimated $2,724,000, with federal funds paying $2,179,000 and the state pitching in $545,000.

Eden said MoDOT hopes the bridge will not be out of service too long. Plans are to have it open before school starts next fall. “We will do everything we can to make sure that happens,” she said.

The detour will leave Highway 96 at Highway 37 (Avilla), go south to Jasper County Route E, east to Missouri 571, and then into Carthage. Detours can be routed only along state roads, Eden said, but local residents can choose more convenient detours.

There are four bridges close together on Highway 96. The 480-foot bridge to be replaced is the longest spanning Spring River. According to MoDOT, it has the lowest rating from the National Bridge Inventory. While the others may look bad, ratings are based on structural soundness, not cosmetics, and the other bridges have a higher rating.

The Carthage Downtown Visioning Committee plan developed by Drury University students and adopted by the city suggests enhancing that entrance to the city by some means such as an arched bridge or other unique design.

MoDOT has said it is limited in funds but would be willing to consider other ideas if the city or some other entity would be willing to pay the additional costs.

Kellogg Lake Park, situated between Highway 96 and old Route 66, was built at the same time as the 58-year-old bridge by the Sportsmen’s Protective League. The group’s goal at the time was to have one of the most beautiful highway entrances in the country, as well as a recreational area.

MoDOT also plans to replace a bridge over Spring River on Route O, south of Alba and about two miles north of Highway 96. That project is estimated at just over $1 million.

Address correspondence to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email news@joplinglobe.com.

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