As the state continues to look into bridge health in Missouri, the city of St. Joseph reports that close to half of St. Joseph’s bridges are in need of repairs or replacements.
At the 2019 Northwest Missouri Freight Summit held Thursday, MoDOT reported that, out of the 1,380 state-owned bridges and culverts in Northwest Missouri, 220 bridges were rated poor.
According to Public Works, there are 25 city-owned bridges in St. Joseph, 12 of which are considered to be in poor condition with two being rated in “serious condition.”
A study completed by engineering firm Snyder & Associates earlier this year made recommendations and estimated the life left in each of the bridges.
Assistant Director of Public Works and Transportation Brady McKinley said two of the city’s older bridges may be only a few years away from having to be closed.
“We’ve got a couple that we’re watching really close, we’re still probably three or four years out from closing those two bridges,” McKinley said. “That’s why we’re really looking hard at some funding options that could be a possibility to do some of these projects.”
The 104-year-old 13th Street bridge over Parkway Drive was recommended to be the priority for replacement.
According to the report from Snyder, the bridge should be replaced as soon as possible.
“Concrete is falling from saturated areas on the bottom side of the deck and onto the Parkway below, endangering passing vehicles,” the report reads. “This bridge is also near the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced as soon as possible due to safety concerns from falling concrete.”
The report listed similar concerns about the 96-year-old 11th Street bridge over Parkway Drive, which it recommended be the second bridge replaced.
A third bridge, Huntoon Road Road over Roy’s Branch, is about 89 years old and was recommended as the third priority for replacement.
The King Hill Drive bridge over South Second Street and the Fifth Avenue Bridge over the railroad tracks were recommended as the fourth and fifth replacement projects.
Other bridges considered in poor condition may only need repairs or maintenance.
McKinley said the age of the bridges plays a role in their condition, but any bridge can get problems.
“The decks are saturated, the concrete’s so old, it’s cracked so much, that water gets down in there and starts saturating and rusting the rebar,” McKinley said. “So, there needs to be some rehabilitation for those (older bridges).”
One small bridge, which is actually a stone culvert over a stream on North Woodbine Road, is in need of repairs but is half-owned by Buchanan County and could see funding or work from both entities.
The majority of the 12 bridges were suggested for the most recent CIP cycle to be funded through that tax, but they were not accepted by the CIP Committee.
In May of this year, the bridges were presented to the City Council and, at that time, it was suggested that some bridges could end up being load rated or even closed.
The council suggested looking into using general obligation bonds to fund the replacements and repairs and McKinley said that option is still being looked at.