JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Planning to travel to mid-Missouri to watch the solar eclipse this month? The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) says a key bridge on Highway 63 just north of Jefferson City will open back up to traffic on Monday, ahead of the upcoming solar eclipse.
In June, MoDOT closed the southbound Highway 63 bridge that crosses the Katy Trail near Jefferson City so crews could place a new deck on the 60-year-old structure.
MoDOT Assistant Resident Engineer Kirsten Munck tells Missourinet the bridge will open back up to traffic on Monday, several weeks ahead of schedule.
“The contractor has worked hard. We had incentives on this project and disincentives on the job to make sure we got it open by August 17th and they’re going to be well ahead of that schedule,” Munck says.
MoDOT entered into a contract agreement with Capital Paving and Construction to ensure that the bridge was open before the eclipse date.
The Missouri Office of Administration (OA) predicts Jefferson City will have between 40,000 and 50,000 visitors for the August 21 eclipse.
Munck says MoDOT wanted the bridge project to be finished before the eclipse.
“It was very crucial and we didn’t want to impede traffic traveling between the prime viewing locations in central Missouri,” says Munck. “I know it’s very important to the area and very important to the state.”
OA Commissioner Sarah Steelman has announced that non-essential state offices in Cole County will be closed on August 21, noting that the traffic congestion can create safety and security risks for the public.
Munck says the work will extend the bridge’s life by 20 to 30 years.
“What the public doesn’t see is that we did a lot of work underneath the bridge as well, you know going through and making sure the structure is in good condition, repairing the concrete areas where it’s slacked off over the years or that,” Munck says.
Munck says one northbound lane on Highway 63 will remain closed through next Thursday (August 10), so a temporary concrete barrier wall can be removed.
About 30,000 vehicles per day cross the bridge, which was built in 1957.
(Brian Hauswirth, Missourinet)