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Historic Taneycomo Bridge Opens to Traffic this Week

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Photo Credit: Angela Eden, MODOT

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/historic-taneycomo-bridge-opens-traffic-week_25225.mp3

Construction on the historic Lake Taneycomo bridge between Hollister and Branson began in 1930, and the bridge was opened in 1931.  The cost of the project was $160,000.  Angela Eden is spokesperson for MODOT…

"All of the bridge spandrel, arches were formed by hand by then what would have been real craftsmen.  It was built with local labor."

Eden says the bridge is in excellent structural condition for its age.  But over the years, as salt was spread to clear the bridge deck during ice and snow, the concrete and steel on the deck corroded and it needed to be replaced.  It was determined that in order to replace the deck, the bridge would need to be closed.

So, MODOT worked with the cities of Hollister and Branson and Taney County to figure out how to keep traffic flowing, and it was decided that a new bridge would be built.  The result was a $7.4 million bridge and roundabout connecting Hollister to Branson via Branson Landing Blvd., financed with American Recovery and Reinvestment act funds.

Once that bridge opened a year ago, the historic bridge was closed…

"And, basically, on the historic bridge what's happened is we've taken off the bridge deck, we have put on new beams, new girders, a new bridge deck.  And then, working very closely with our contractor on the project--Jensen Construction out of Iowa--they have put back the decorative  bridge rails on the bridge that look very very very similar to the original bridge walls."

The cost was $4.8 million making the total cost of the project $12.2 million.  The rehabilitation, which also widened the bridge, is complete, and Eden says Hollister, Branson and MODOT will host a community celebration tomorrow (11/15)…

"They've endured the construction for the last two years--now it's time for us all to celebrate, and one of the things that we're doing, which I think is kind of a unique feature, something that we kind of felt pretty strongly about, was the ability for folks to actually walk on the bridge, inspect it, look at it without traffic."

Tomorrow (11/15), the public is invited to the Historic Bridge Stroll-About—the bridge will be open to pedestrian traffic only from 3:30 to 5:30.  Park in the Branson Convention Center parking lot on Sycamore Street and walk to the bridge or take a shuttle…

"And we just want folks to come out and enjoy it.  We're going to have a Western Taney County Fire Protection District fire truck on the bridge along with a Branson Fire Department truck on the bridge with an American flag.  Young children are gonna have the ability around the fire trucks to have some chalk and maybe write their names and messages and what have you on the new bridge deck and enjoy it, and then we'll have folks from MODOT, the city of Branson and the city of Hollister available to answer any questions folks may have."

There will be a dedication ceremony in the Table Rock Room at the Branson Convention Center Wednesday morning (11/16) at 11.  Then, at 11:45, a motorcade of antique and present-day vehicles will drive over the bridge just before it opens to traffic.

For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.