Historic bridge in Ozark replaced, open to traffic

Local News

OZARK, Mo. — A bridge more than 100-years-old is finally replaced and now open to traffic.

The newly opened Riverside Bridge in Ozark is about 12-feet higher than the old bridge. It’s about 10-feet wide, can handle heavy traffic, and has a biking and walking trail.

“Bridges bring people together,” said Spencer Jones, with Great River Engineering, “and this bridge reflects that core value and people coming together to make a project possible.”

Jones said this bridge has gone through a lot over the past 100 years.

In 2010, the bridge shut down because of flood damage. It opened back up in 2013 with repairs until an even bigger flood shut it down for good.

“During the flooding of July of 2015, the bridge was damaged and no longer available to be used for vehicular traffic,” Jones said.

Ralph Phillips, presiding commissioner of Christian County, talk about memories with the bridge, “I remember the high school reunions down here every five years with the fried chicken,” Phillips said.

Other residents have fond memories of Riverside Bridge.

“Being a native of Ozark, I remember crossing the bridge. We all have stories when it was a wooden deck,” said John Elkins, a past commissioner of Ozark Special Road District.

Phillips said this new bridge will benefit all residents around the area,

“Whether you live on the west side of the county, east side, doesn’t matter, it’s going to help our school districts, be able to get their kids back and forth to school, and most importantly, our first responder’s ability to respond in a quicker manner,” said Phillips.

Missouri U.S. representative Billy Long said the bridge will make things much easier for the health care system and others out saving lives.

“What a glorious day, goodness gracious, after all this hard work and all the things that are going to be so vastly improved, such as first responders,” said Long.

Jones stressed the importance of preserving the history of the original bridge.

“Today, we’ll unveil a plaque that provides a little bit of background and history to the riverside trust bridge,” said Jones.

Phillips said people are already enjoying it.

“I drove out here Sunday,” said Phillips. “There were a lot of people walking.”

The old bridge will be just about a mile downstream as part of Johnny Morris’s Finley River Farms project near the Ozark mill.

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