The bridge that originally carried Route 66 over the Meramec River, near what was the city of Times Beach, is starting to be disassembled this week just outside of Eureka. A crew member from XL Contracting, the staff handling the deconstruction of the bridge, told Patch Monday the concrete on the bridge will be cut into slabs and taken off, along with the railing.
He said the bridge’s beams will be left, in hopes that some entity will want to rebuild the bridge in the next five years.
He also said the bridge work was slated to be done by Dec. 14.
The Meramec River Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Sept. 16, 2009, according to Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) records. The Meramec River Route 66 Bridge is significant, both for its association with historic Route 66 and as one of only four remaining riveted Warren deck truss bridges in Missouri.
Construction of this bridge began in 1931 and was completed in 1932, according to MoDOT historian Jane Lee.
The Route 66 Meramec River Bridge is commonly referred to as the Times Beach Bridge because of its location at the entrance of the former Times Beach community. After U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representatives discovered dioxin at Times Beach, they relocated the residents and cleaned up the surrounding area. Once the remediation was complete, EPA officials turned the property over to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), and it became the Route 66 State Park. Because the bridge no longer serves a town or city, MoDOT managers could not spend limited resources on it. MoDOT representatives attempted, however, to work with MDNR and East-West Gateway representatives to find another group or agency who was willing to accept liability and continue to maintain the bridge.
Since 2005, MoDOT managers restricted the weight limit on the bridge to prolong its life. In 2005, the weight restriction was set at 15 tons. In 2007, MoDOT had to restrict the bridge to vehicles of 10 tons or less, due to the bridge’s deteriorated condition. The bridge also was restricted to one lane at that time.
In early 2009, MoDOT further restricted the bridge to vehicles of 5 tons or less, after an annual bridge inspection. After further review, MoDOT managers determined that they had to close the bridge to all traffic, including pedestrian and bicycle traffic, due to safety concerns.
By Julie Brown Patton – Eureka-Wildwood Patch