MoDOT will be displaying its own homegrown, blue-ribbon concrete bridge beam at the State Fair that opens later this week. Needless to say, this display does not have the typical agricultural feel that you would expect at the State Fair. But having new, wider bridges in rural areas is extremely important for Missouri's farmers. And that's why MoDOT is taking this opportunity to showcase the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program.
The program is improving 802 of the state's poorest bridges. The vast majority of them are on rural, low-volume roads. Many of them are just one lane wide. And on average they are 60 years old. Already 192 of these projects have been completed, with MoDOT reopening a new bridge ever two-and-a-half days since April 2009.
Precast bridge elements like the beam that will be on display outside the Highway Gardens are a key part of the design and construction strategies being employed on this project by KTU Constructors, MoDOT's design-build contractor that is building 554 new Safe & Sound bridges. This particular one was made by CoreSlab in Marshall and is 30-feet long and weighs 21,000 pounds. "Missouri loves new bridges!" is painted along its side, and visitors may sign the beam to show their support for improved infrastructure across the state. The beam will be used in a new bridge on Pettis County Route U over Spring Fork Creek that will be built next year. Next to the new beam will be an old, rusty steel girder that came out of another Pettis County bridge that is currently under construction. The contrast between the two is dramatic.
Pettis County has 22 bridges on the Safe & Sound program. Nine of them are already complete and all of them will be done this time next year.