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Missouri crews finishing first U.S. stimulus project

Saturday, August 7, 2010 | 4:29 p.m. CDT

OSAGE BEACH — Missouri crews are finishing work on the nation's first construction project to be funded by the federal stimulus package.

Missouri transportation officials plan to open the new highway bridge over the Osage River in Tuscumbia on Aug. 16, The Lake Sun Leader reported. The bridge carries traffic on Missouri 17 over the tributary of the Missouri River about 30 miles southwest of Jefferson City.

Work on replacing the nearly 80-year-old bridge started just minutes after President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus package into law in February 2009. Members of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission monitored Obama's bill signing ceremony by video and voted seconds later to approve the bridge replacement and three other projects.

Within a minute, commissioners handed a check to a contractor who had workers standing by. A backhoe operator began digging a hole for a support beam of the new bridge while other workers began working on the old span.

The old bridge was closed to large trucks in 2007 because of structural concerns. A badly deteriorating steel beam was identified during inspections conducted after a deadly Minnesota bridge collapse.

The new bridge is to be 28 feet wide, an extension of 8 feet. Transportation officials plan to close traffic over the river starting Thursday to allow roads to be connected to the new bridge.

"This closure is necessary to make the tie-ins because the roadway elevations to the new bridge differ significantly from the old bridge," said Patty Lemongelli, a construction and materials engineer for the Department of Transportation.

A ribbon-cutting for the new bridge is planned to be held on its deck, and a community celebration is to follow.


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