Missouri 291 temporary bridge crossing planned for Tuesday

Highway engineers hope to open a temporary northbound crossing over the Missouri River on Missouri 291 by the afternoon rush hour Tuesday.

The Missouri Department of Transportation today awarded a $329,000 contract for building the temporary bridge crossing. The contractors will be shifting the northbound traffic over into the southbound lanes. As a result, traffic over the Missouri River in that location will be one way in each direction until engineers figure out what to do about the northbound bridge.

The contractors have until 3 p.m. next Tuesday to get the project done.

MoDOT closed the northbound Missouri 291 bridge Tuesday because of rusted gusset plates, key pieces of metal that hold beams together within the lattice work of the bridge.

The Missouri 291 crossing was one of 232 steel truss bridges statewide that were to be examined after federal investigators warned about a potential design flaw in the gusset plates.

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that a design error in the gusset plates probably caused the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis in August 2007 that killed 13 and injured more than 100.

The gusset plate inspection, which occurred just this month, led to the closing of the northbound Missouri 291 bridge because of rust on the plates. Engineers are still surveying the bridge and may need up to two weeks to complete their inspection.

MoDOT said this morning that it could be later this summer before it will be determined how the problems on the bridge will be repaired.