OZARK, Mo — The old piece of history in the City of Ozark will have a new purpose.
Years ago, the one-lane Riverside Bridge, built in 1909, sat next to the Ozark Mill.
Once the need grew for a bigger one, it was replaced and moved upstream, and flooding caused it to be closed off in 2015.
Now, the piece of history will move back near its original location to be re-purposed for Bass Pro’s “Ozark Mill Revitalization Project” in some capacity.
Steve Childers, City Administrator of Ozark is thrilled to see a piece of history staying home.
“It’s a part of our history, it’s been here for a long time. It’s important to a lot of people, we are just extremely lucky that it’s that important to the project that Bass Pro is doing too,” Childers says.
Bass Pro has suggested it will use the bridge to connect the Ozark Mill Revitalization Project to property it has on the other side of the Finley River. That project will entail Ozark history and culture, but acquire it, Bass Pro had to make a pitch to the bridges owners — The Ozark Special Road District.
“It was ultimately their decision to make to determine where the final resting place of the bridge would be,” says Childers.
John Elkins is a Commissioner with Ozark Special Road District, and says they trusted it would be done right with Bass Pro, who now has a deadline to move the bridge back up stream.
“It’s been such a centerpiece of Ozark. It was important for us to keep it in the community if at all possible,” says Elkins. “They have until the end of November to move the structure. There has been a lot of discussion on how that might happen and to my knowledge, nothing has been decided on the best way to move that.”
With the old bridge being re-purposed, it will need to be replaced.
“We should have the ball rolling to start the construction of a replacement structure at that time,” Elkins says.
Childers says it will be huge for transportation in town as well.
“When you’re a river town you have limited access points to go across the river. That is going to allow people to head north and be ale to cross the river at that point, and that is going to make things better,” Childers says.
Elkins added that new bridge to replacing the old structure will be much taller and longer to prevent flooding from being an issue in that area, and it will be two-lanes for traffic. It will also feature a pedestrian lane as well to connect the trail system which is another ongoing project in Ozark.