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Bridge on Route 171 in critical condition - KOAM TV 7

Bridge on Route 171 in critical condition

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JASPER COUNTY, MISSOURI -

The number of bridges in the show-me state that are in critical condition has risen. This is following the Missouri Department of Transportation’s latest round of inspections. There are 641 in the state, about 50 more than a year ago.

It is one of the main ways to travel from Joplin to Pittsburg but the bridge over Center Creek on Route 171 is in critical condition.

“The issue is that we continue to see more and more deterioration of the deck, the driving service, as well as the substructure unit," says Dave O’Connor, a bridge engineer for MoDOT’s southwest district.

MoDOT is working to add this bridge to the safe and sound program. The program was created in 2008 for the sole purpose of fixing bridges in the state. Bridges are rated on a scale of 0 to 9 and if it is a 3 or 4, it’s considered to be in critical condition.

“This particular bridge over Center Creek is rated 3. This is one of the highest priorities that we have on that list of bridges that we're looking to add to the program. So yes I anticipate this bridge being added to the program this fall or next spring, the process beginning on the design of a replacement structure," continues O’Connor.

Design plans are expected to take time but in the meantime, drivers shouldn't worry.

“The bridge is safe. If this bridge wasn't safe, I would close the bridge," says O’Connor.

On an average day, 11,000 cars and trucks travel over this 60 year old bridge, causing a significant amount of wear and tear. And when it comes time to replace the bridge, many will be forced to take longer detours.

“It’s going to inconvenience us because this is the way we drive to come to Joplin, we're from Weir, Kansas, so it’s just closer and faster for us to come this way," says Jamie Hale.

“Well certainly safety, and rerouting, people getting lost, sending people off in a different direction may create some confusion,” says Carl Junction resident Robert Eddy.

“We’re going to start the process, we're going to keep maintaining, patching the deck, patching the pot holes on this but I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel for this particular bridge,” adds O’Connor.

85 bridges in the southwest district are in critical condition but none have had to be closed.

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