COLUMBIA — The bridge over Hominy Creek on Route WW reopened Thursday afternoon.
The bridge, in eastern Columbia south of Interstate 70, was scheduled to be completed next week, but the construction crew "worked diligently" and finished early, said Bob Brendel, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Construction on the bridge began Feb. 21. On Wednesday, project foreman Dale Heislen told businesses in the area that the project would be finished Thursday.
The work on Hominy Creek bridge is part of MoDOT's Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program. MoDOT hopes to improve 802 of Missouri's bridges in five years and, on average, aims to complete each project in 45 days. The 300 bridges completed so far have averaged 40 days until completion. MoDOT estimated the Hominy Creek bridge to be finished in 53 days, but it was done in 45.
On Wednesday, MoDOT closed the bridge over Little Cedar Creek, on I-70, one mile east of Route Z. That project is scheduled to be completed on June 2, according to MoDOT's website.
The bridge repair program — launched in September 2008 — identified 248 bridges for rehabilitation and 554 bridges for full replacement.
The original Hominy Creek bridge, built in 1961, ranked very low on a national scale used to determine bridge safety and the entire thing needed to be rebuilt.
Brendel said the bridge survived about as long as its original design life said it should. Design lives are usually between 50 and 70 years, but some of the bridges included in this repair project are about 100 years old because continual maintenance allowed them to outlive their design lives..
"Generally bridges deteriorate because of water and salt," Brendel said. "We plow snow in Missouri so that causes concrete and even steel to deteriorate."
Tim Green, a member of the construction crew at Hominy Creek, finished up the project Thursday with another construction worker, Craig Mertens. Seconds after they took down the roadwork signs and road blocks, drivers filled the road, some taking pictures from behind the wheel of the newly completed bridge.