Riverside Bridge to be repaired and reopened

Photo taken in August 2011

The repairs will short term while a permanent solution is being sought out for the bridge.

After three years of politicking, fund-raising, public speeches and publicity from all sides of the spectrum, residents of Ozark, Missouri and Christian County are celebrating a well-deserved victory, for the Riverside Bridge will be repaired and reopened to traffic in the coming months. The two-span through truss bridge, built 103 years ago by the Canton Bridge Company, was closed to traffic in September 2010 after it failed an inspection and was fenced off to all traffic in March 2011 fearing potential liability issues on the part of the county. However, efforts led by Zach and Kris Dyer and the organization Save the Riverside Bridge, combined with support from pontists from outside Missouri have led to the Christian County Special Roads District to initiate the repairs, which will include repairing the concrete piers and replacing the railings and parts of the bridge deck at the cost of $170,000. When completed in approximately five months, the bridge will be in service with a five ton weight restriction, minus all emergency vehicles that need to cross the structure to get to their destination.

However, these repairs are only temporary, as both the county and the state department of transportation are looking for a permanent solution for the bridge, which will feature building a new structure on a new alignment and handing the bridge over to the bridge preservation group and city for use as a recreational bridge. Already scratched was a proposal to build a low-water crossing by the Special Roads District because of high costs and the structural flaws it would feature, including being inundated by high waters and the potential for it to be undermined and turned over by flood waters (please refer to the Chronicles article here for more details). No matter how the bridge will be built, construction will not start for at least two years due to tie needed to buy the property adjacent to the bridge and to design the new bridge.

This might give Dyer’s organization more breathing room to rake in the funds to make the Riverside Bridge a permanent crossing for bikes and pedestrians. Already, the Save the Riverside Bridge has collected thousands of dollars in support for restoring and reusing the bridge. More and more people have joined the organization via facebook. Fund-raising events have been going on frequently since the beginning of 2011. Support and expertise were provided by bridge experts and enthusiasts from the US, Germany and elsewhere. Even the 2011 Historic Bridge Conference made a stop in Ozark for dinner and presentations that were visited by nearly 100 people including Lou Lapaglia, the County Commissioner.  While the plan to reopen the bridge is a victory for Dyer and Co., the organization knows that it must continue to push for a permanent solution for everyone to be happy with.

And with the Riverside Bridge being part of the National Register of Historic Places, in addition to being an integral part of Christian County’s history and heritage, combined with the support from people from Missouri, the US and around the world, there is a great potential that the Riverside Bridge will become a success story and a poster boy for other projects involving restoring and reusing historic bridges to follow suit.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you informed on the latest with the Riverside Bridge, but would like to congratulate Zach and Kris Dyer and the rest of the Save the Riverside Bridge for their tireless efforts. It is one giant leap towards the ultimate goal and thou shall continue to keep going until the summit is reached and the sun rises to greet a newly restored historic bridge laden with bikes and pedestrians, all saying thank you for a job well done. Keep up the good work.

More on the bridge and the comments can also be found here.