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On Point: A bridge too far — Will county government square off with Hermann City Hall over priority for bridges?

Posted on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 11:52 am

Buck Collier is the editor of the Hermann Advertiser-Courier.

Are we about to see Gasconade County government square off with Hermann City Hall over just which bridge should get top billing — although probably not get funded — in the upcoming new list of transit projects in the Meramec Region being assembled for consideration?
Possibly. City Hall already has made it known that it plans to lobby Meramec Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Bonnie Prigge and MoDOT District Engineer Preston Kramer to place the Market Street bridge over Frene Creek on the priority list of projects in Gasconade County that will be part of the overall regional list to be forwarded to MoDOT.
But the project list that will be assembled in a Gasconade County Commission session tomorrow morning might not wind up as it looks at the end of that meeting. Indeed, the items on that wish list of road-and-bridge projects will have to pass muster with the MRPC’s Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC). The version approved by the TAC gets sent to MoDOT to be worked into the statewide master Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) for the next 5-year program.
OK, so City Hall wants the Frene Creek bridge replaced. County officials — and some residents, including yours truly — want a particular bridge in unincorporated county placed on the list, preferably ahead of the Market Street bridge.
That would be the Depression-era span over First Creek, near the intersection of Highways 100 West and J. That one-lane bridge lays atop wooden piers — I think it’s the only wooden-piered bridge around — and is widely considered the most-needy bridge in the county, if not the entire region.
As for the Frene Creek bridge, Kramer at last year’s sit-down session with the County Commission noted that recent inspections found the span to be in good shape. Old, yes, but stable. Not so the First Creek bridge. However, the low number of vehicles crossing the First Creek bridge did not allow it to be pushed up the region’s to-do list. Now, with another year of deterioration and use, maybe it can be moved into a position where the chance of funding is improved.
Along with the 100 West-J intersection, which is a major disaster waiting to happen.
I’m interested to hear City Hall’s justification for a new Frene Creek bridge. I would think County Clerk Lesa Lietzow, who crosses her fingers at least twice a day as she relies on the First Creek bridge going to and from work, could make just as compelling a case for a new span in her part of the county.
The meeting of Kramer, Prigge, the County Commission and anyone else who would like to learn more about the process of putting together the list is set for 11 a.m. in the Emergency Operations Center in the Courthouse basement, the temporary home of the County Commission.

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