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The Missouri Department of Transportation is embarking on a series of bridge improvements this construction season scattered throughout its Northwest District.

Scott Stephens, who serves as the district’s bridge engineer, said one of the more significant projects will involve replacing the Missouri Route DD bridge at Faucett that spans Interstate 29. A closing of the structure is set to commence in mid- to late July, he said.

“It’s in pretty bad shape,” Stephens said. “That’s a bridge we’ve been wanting to take care of for some time.”

Ramps extending to the bridge will be modified in size to accommodate the large tractor-trailer units that routinely use the Farris Truck Stop in Faucett, he added.

Stephens said it’s hoped that a study covering the future of the Interstate 229 overpass Downtown can start in spring 2018, using the services of a third party for the review.

“In the next seven to 10 years, we really need to do something with that bridge,” he said. “To replace it is going to be very expensive.”

Among a host of options for the I-229 span’s disposition is a decommissioning. Pursuing a rehabilitation itself would cost around $50 million, according to Stephens. A search for those necessary funds will be a challenge, he said.

Elsewhere in the 20-county district, the new fiscal 2018 budget year starting Saturday, July 1, will see a focus on about 20 bridges that will require some sort of repairs or replacement.

“We try to do some preventive maintenance,” Stephens said. Moisture is a frequent nuisance, for example, that necessitates repairs to expansion joints. Another measure calls for sealing cracks in the bridges, he said.

Among other projects, Stephens said the deck for a bridge on Interstate 29 on the Holt-Andrew county line will be replaced.

Close to 1.5 million square feet of bridge decking in the district must be maintained. Those in the worst condition are frequently inspected, and crews can be quickly dispatched to those locations if unexpected problems occur.

“We don’t have any closed right now,” Stephens said when asked about any potentially dangerous bridges in Northwest Missouri.

Two rural bridges in Harrison County — often used by local farmers during harvest — could face closure if funds can’t be obtained for repairs. Stephens said older bridges could face new weight restrictions for trucks and farm vehicles, or might possibly be transformed into one lane, depending on their condition.

Ray Scherer can be reached at ray.scherer@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.

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