FORSYTH, Mo. — June should have signaled the start of a $10 million Missouri Department of Transportation project in Taney County but Mother Nature had other plans.
Spring flooding has pushed Bull Shoals Lake 27-feet above conservation pool, and as a result, plans to replace one of the twin bridges in Forsyth has been delayed.
“Our bridges are kind of like Baby Boomers, they are all in that same age group,” says MoDOT area engineer, Beth Schaller.
Schaller says the problem with the Baby Boomer on Highway 76 in Forsyth is it’s simply too costly to continuing maintaining going forward.
She says the structure, while it has an iconic look, is also outdated.
“It’s an older steel truss bridge,” Schaller says. “It wouldn’t meet any of the current criteria for either clearance of the truss itself or the width of the bridge. So it’s just an inadequate structure.”
Instead of rebuilding in the current location, MoDOT crews will construction a new bridge with concrete walls alongside the existing structure when the lake reaches an acceptable level.
The bridge will be located on the west side of the current bridge – the side closest to downtown.
While some drivers may hate to see the old bridge go, they may be happy to hear the project again includes plans to replace the nearby three-way stop at the intersection of 76 and 160 with a roundabout.
“During the peak flows, especially when school is in session or that type of thing, they had a lot of backups,” she says.
“It was a congestion issue and it was a safety issue,” Schaller says. “You couldn’t get law enforcement or an ambulance through there – traffic was backed way up.”
By building parallel to the current bridge, delays should be minimal up until the very end of the project. Then that portion of Highway 76 could be closed up to two weeks.
MoDOT is eyeing a new start date for fall of 2017 and hopes to have both projects, the bridge and roundabout, complete one year later.
In the past there was discussion of handing the old bridge over to the county after it was retired but maintenance was deemed too costly.
Taney County is helping share the $1.4 million cost of the new roundabout.