It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow, but it has to be done, and the Missouri Department of Transportation plans to make it as quick and painless as possible.

The railroad overpass near Sutherlands on South Range Line Road is going to be replaced beginning early next year.

“This will be a complete teardown and rebuild,” said Craig Switzer, project manager for MoDOT. “Range Line Road will be closed to do that.”

The bridge, according to Switzer, has been a constant maintenance headache for the department. The deck overlay is coming apart, and the girders are in bad shape. Steps have been taken to shore up the bridge in places.

“It’s in bad shape because it’s seen so much traffic,” he said. A study in 2009 showed that 25,000 to 28,000 cars travel on Range Line Road each day, according to the city’s traffic engineering department.

Another reason it needs to be replaced, he said, is because the bridge is 2 feet lower in elevation than it should be.

“It’s not the standard clearance. It needs to be 2 feet higher than it is to permit the double stacking of cargo containers,” he said.

The bridge will have four lanes like it does now, but sidewalks will be added to both sides of the bridge. The project calls for those sidewalks to be connected to existing sidewalks north and south of the bridge.

What is not clear yet is how long the bridge will be closed to traffic.

“We don’t know yet how long it will be closed. We’re working up the bridge plan now,” he said. “We are anticipating a closure of three months, but the entire project will take a lot longer than that.”

Switzer said the department will know in January when the bids for the project are let whether the closure will be for three or four months.

If the department receives a favorable bid, which is expected, a notice to proceed could be issued to the contractor on March 15. He estimates the project will cost $6.5 million.

A public meeting will be held this summer, possibly in July, to explain the project and all that it entails. The department hopes that the local situation with COVID-19 will permit it to stage a public in-person meeting that will be similar to those held by the department in the past.

Switzer said MoDOT plans to offer financial incentives to the contractor for timely completion of the work. Plans call for the work to continue at night.

“We know how big of a disruption this will be for the community. We want to get in there and get it done as soon as we can,” he said.

A state detour for out-of-town traffic will redirect motorists to East 32nd Street, Route 249 and then back to Range Line on East Seventh Street. Local motorists will use city streets to work around the construction site.

New facade

One of the oldest business buildings in downtown Joplin is getting a new look.

The property, located at 216 S. Main St., recently changed hands.

Workers with American Construction recently enclosed the entrance with plywood to create a protected workspace.

A sign at the front of this building says it was built in 1877, four years after Joplin’s founding.

Speaking of changing hands, a historic building at 124 S. Main St. is now under new ownership, according to Kent Eastman, a commercial real estate broker with Keller Williams.

The property, he said, will continue as a rental property for the new owner.

Tenants in the building include a barbershop, a tattoo parlor, a photographer, a studio and an arcade.

IF YOU HAVE NEWS about something that’s happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, call 417-623-3480, ext. 7250, or send an email to

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