Apr 092014
 










Construction is progressing on a project to rehabilitate the aging, historic Devil’s Elbow Bridge in rural Pulaski County.

“This is a project that began 10 or 11 years ago, and we are finally seeing the construction phase, so its very exciting,” Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner Gene Newkirk said. “It’s moving right along, and, so far, it’s been very smooth.”

The Pulaski County Commission took note of the bridge’s deteriorating condition—including severe rusting, cracked substructure and considerable soil loss near the south abutment—several years ago and began working to secure funding for a $1.3 million restoration project.

The funding for the project was found last year when the county commission was able to combine Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Bridge Replacement Off-System (BRO) and MoDOT’s Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds with a mixture of grant funds awarded.

MoDOT BRO and STP funds are covering 80 percent of the project, and the Missouri Department of Economic Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program along with a small grant from the National Parks Service and a local match from Pulaski County make up the remaining project funding.

The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) helped prepare the CDBG, STP and National Park Service grant applications and is serving as the administrator for the $250,000 CDBG grant awarded.
Not only will the rehabilitation of the project address safety issues, but it also maintains the historic significance of the structure.

“We have so many people from all over the country who come down to the bridge while traveling Route 66 because it is historic,” Newkirk said. “Many pictures have been taken of that bridge, and many people in our local communities, too, have pictures taken on that bridge from many, many years ago.”

The pages of the nearby Elbow Inn guestbook indicate that the picturesque place not only draws travelers from other states but from several other countries as well. Entries have included guests from France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Canada and Australia to name a few.

“We are very fortunate here in Pulaski County to have 33 original miles of Route 66, and we are internationally known for that,” Pulaski County Tourism Bureau Director Beth Wiles said, noting that the stretch is also known as one of the most beautiful in the country.

“They look at Route 66 as that key component of America,” Wiles said of the international travelers.
The influx of tourists seeking a part of American history is greatest from April through October, and brings tourism dollars not just to businesses near the bridge like the Elbow Inn, but also into the cities of Waynesville and St. Robert.

Built in 1923, the bridge was part of the original Route 66. The portion of the nostalgic highway that passes through Devil’s Elbow, however, proved to be dangerous and soon came to be called “Bloody 66.”

As a result, the Hooker Cut realignment took place in 1940, bypassing the bridge. At that time, it was the deepest rock cut in the country.
According to the HAER Bridge Inventory, a list of historic bridges in Missouri, the Devil’s Elbow Bridge may be eligible for a place on the National Register of Historic Places. It is believed to be one of the earliest examples of Missouri State Highway Department long-span truss design still in existence.

Additionally, Newkirk noted it is also one of only two remaining bridges in the state containing a curve. The second is the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis, which was recently converted to a pedestrian bridge. Wiles added that it is the only curved bridge on the original Route 66 still open to traffic.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the rehabilitation project was held in October, and, by the end of March, the 400-foot deck of the bridge began to retake its original shape.

The framing of the new deck is in place and half of the decking concrete has been poured with the remaining half expected to be poured by mid to late April. Once the remaining portion of the deck has been poured, the bridge will be painted and additional structural work will be completed.

Engineering services for the project have been provided by Great River Engineering out of Springfield, Mo. The engineer currently supervising the project, Steve Brown, expects it to be re-opened to traffic by August at the latest. Phillips Hardy, Inc., out of Columbia, is the general contractor for the project. The contractor was selected through a competitive bid process.

For individuals interested in touring the 33-mile stretch of Route 66 in Pulaski County, a turn-by-turn brochure is available for download at visitpulaskicounty.org. Alternately, the brochure is available in audio format for listening as you drive the route.

By Rolla Daily News

Aug 082013
 




City officials are planning a big move for a historic bridge north of downtown Catoosa following a meeting earlier this week.

Most Catoosa residents are familiar with the Rice Street Bridge, which crosses Spunky Creek along historic Route 66. It’s that bridge that will soon be replaced by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation with a wider, newer bridge.

Tulsa’s Channel 8’s community newspaper partner, the Catoosa Times, reported that the Rice Street Bridge has now outlived its use at Spunky Creek. But despite it being 100-years-old, the city of Catoosa still plans to use that bridge elsewhere in the community.

City staffers, including City Planner Greg Collins, have suggested the city use the bridge as a pedestrian walkway along Cherokee Street, south of Pine Street. Collins suggested a refurbished bridge could be used as part of the Safe Routes to School grant project.

If that happens, the city will place the bridge along the east side of Cherokee, between Catoosa High School and Pine. Collins has said there are two ravines to cross and this bridge will cross one of them, according to the newspaper.

Rogers County Commissioner Kirt Thacker said the county is helping in the effort to move the old bridge.

“It’s in poor shape,” Thacker said. “That’s one reason you’re not driving on it.”

Thacker went on to state that Rogers County will move pieces of the bridge to the city’s maintenance yard after ODOT dismantles it.

City Engineer Craig Kupec said the bridge will have to be reconditioned before placing it along Cherokee. That portion of the project will be “somewhat labor-intensive,” he said.

Another obstacle in this project is an existing water line that would need to be moved, according to the newspaper’s report. Kupec has been asked how much moving that water line would cost the city.

He estimated it would cost, on the high end, $42,000.

“It’s possible to excavate rather than bore,” Kupec said. “That, I feel, would be on the high side.”

Brian Kellogg, owner of Kellogg Engineering, said there is no way around moving the 8-inch water line and would need to be moved to accommodate the new bridge. He added that the line is “laying in the way of construction.”

“We have a plan that will suffice for your water line,” he told Catoosa officials.

The old roadway is about 20 feet wide, Kellogg said. The new roadway would be 12-foot lanes and 2-foot shoulders on both sides.

Thacker said the bottom line is the water line must be moved.

“If that line doesn’t’t get moved, that bridge is staying like it is.”

The city council had both of these items on its Aug. 5 agenda. Councilors approved salvaging the old bridge by a vote of 7-0. The second item addressed moving the water line, which councilors also approved 7-0.

 

Jan 192011
 

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – The city’s future is bright, Mayor Dennis Michael told a group of community and business leaders at his first State of the City address on Wednesday at Etiwanda Gardens.

Michael displayed his optimistic outlook to a crowd of about 120 people at the annual luncheon hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. The former fire chief and newly elected mayor outlined a number of ongoing and future projects – including Foothill Boulevard’s widening and Hellman Avenue storm drain construction – as infrastructure developments that will help the city exit the economic slump.

“These projects not only benefit the community but they also help stimulate our local economy and create jobs right now,” Michael said. “This is just the type of jump start we need during a time when many businesses and families are being challenged due to our local and nation’s economy.”

A video simulation was shown of a widened Foothill Boulevard at the city’s western limits. The computer graphics showed a trailhead park and a Route 66-themed bridge near Baker Avenue.

Michael said the project, expected to be finished at the end of the year, will stimulate growth in an area that “needs it so drastically.”

“Words can’t describe how great this portion of Foothill Boulevard will look,” he said. “It will be the jewel of the entire stretch of Route 66.”

Later this year, construction will begin on Wilson Avenue from East Avenue to Wardman Bullock Road to provide a sidewalk and one lane of traffic each way in that northeast neighborhood.
Construction of the Hellman Fire Station in the Alta Loma neighborhood is also expected to be complete later in the year. The station, which will be equipped to fight hillside fires, has been in the fire district’s plans since the 1970s.

“Patience has truly paid off,” Michael said.

The mayor described an economic comeback on the horizon, with housing developers beginning to inquire about land and permitting processes and sales tax inching slightly upwards.

“We are beginning to see progress,” he said.

Last year, the city’s Redevelopment Agency was able to convince laser technology company SpectraSensors to stay in the city thanks to a grant from the county. The city also welcomed Sharp Electronics, which relocated here from Orange County, bringing 100 new jobs to the area.

“Our creativity and resilience continues to be tested but we also know that these tough economic times will not last forever,” Michael said. “And regardless of what is occurring at a national or state level, we have built a vibrant community with great schools, an excellent infrastructure and quality projects that will endure this economic downturn.”

Jul 082010
 

The world is watching what the Oklahoma Department of Transportation does with two old, historic bridges.

The twin bridges over the Verdigris River in Catoosa are in line for a makeover, and Route 66 enthusiasts from as far away as Australia are keeping track of the progress.

Nearly 20,000 vehicles travel the two bridges every day.

The bridges were built in the 1930s and have been slowly falling apart. Just in the last two years alone, ODOT has been out there 42 times for repairs.

“You have to do almost like a zigzag across it,” Catoosa resident Elizabeth Bolin said in a previous interview.

The bridges are on ODOT’s list to be replaced. The only question is what the new bridge will look like. The concern comes because the bridges are part of the long history of Route 66 and preservationists and historians are worried that the old truss style may be on the way out, and a typical concrete bridge may be on the way in.

“I think it’s a shame because the bridges have a lot of character being the style that they are,” said Brad Nickson, Route 66 Association of Oklahoma.

“We really understand that, but we also have the traveling public safety in mind,” said Dawn Sullivan of ODOT.

As part of the process, ODOT has heard from Route 66 lovers from Arizona to Australia. Nearly all want the bridges character to stay intact.

“We have received several comments to that effect that they’d like to see us try to find a way to make it fit in with the setting better, and that’s something we’re considering,” said Sullivan.

“It does not surprise me one bit that they got comments from all over the world,” said Nickson.

Nickson says safety should be the first consideration, he just wishes ODOT had more options than your average, run of the mill, modern bridge.

“Well, cause you can go anywhere in the world and see a flat concrete bridge with concrete sides,” said Nickson.

ODOT says they have not made any decisions yet and they are consulting with preservationists about the new bridge. The new bridge is scheduled to be built in 2012.

Story by Dan Bewley & Terry Hood