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Bridge's safety concerns prompt MODOT to issue weight limit - KOAM TV 7

Bridge's safety concerns prompt MODOT to issue weight limit

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 MODOT officials have set travel restrictions on a major bridge in Carthage.  MODOT says the bridge on highway 96, just outside the main city limits of Carthage, is safe for travel by some motorists right now, and they want to keep it that way.

The wheels on the bridge keep on turnin'.  Though for how much longer, officials are still trying to determine.

"I knew it was in serious condition," says MODOT engineer David O'Connor.

The bridge was built in 1934, and you may notice some things are missing on the bridge.

"Deterioration in the curbs and rails is normally ahead of the rest of the bridge," says O'Connor.

O'Connor says what's seen on the surface only touches the surface.  Forty percent of each of the four columns' tops holding up the bridge are weaker than what they were before.  

There's now a ten ton vehicle weight limit for the bridge.

"As a general rule, this is not something that we do and don't try to get into this situation," says O'Connor.

MODOT says 45 hundred vehicles a day travel on this bridge.

"Anything east of here comes in, generally, from that direction.  And also it's an alternate route coming from Springfield, as well," says Captain Bill Hawkins with the Carthage Police Department.

Police have begun enforcing this weight limit.

"It would be just a traffic violation, which would be a fine only," says Hawkins.

Signs near the bridge detail the bridge's new restriction, but don't specify alternate routes.

"Someone out of town, passing through, we'd be willing to give them a warning," says Hawkins.

Here's a different warning:  MODOT doesn't know when this bridge will be replaced.  It comes down to money, and a tight budget.

"It's just a speculation, without a design.  But I would speculate a couple million dollars, or a few million dollars," says O'Connor.

MODOT officials say detour signs have been put up on several key state highways.  One of those signs is near Avilla, Missouri.  School buses and MODOT maintenance vehicles are also included in this weight restriction.  MODOT workers say they will be using smaller trucks with plows this upcoming winter season.

MODOT will be inspecting this bridge every six months.

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