Audrain County Bridge East of Benton City Being Replaced Soon

A nearly 100-year-old Audrain County bridge is getting replaced soon thanks to the county’s small structures program. The bridge, located on Audrain County Road 709, falls east of Benton City and south of Highway 54. It was originally constructed in 1927.

The county commission and the county’s engineer, Brian Haeffner developed a priority list for all bridges eligible for federal funding. The priorities are primarily based on bridge condition, but also include bridge width, load posting and local traffic. Audrain County has a long-term plan for upgrading bridges using both county and federal funds; this plan has been an active part of Audrain County Commissions for decades.

“I am appreciative of the citizens’ support in voting for the county small structures initiative (prior to my tenure),” Associate Commissioner Tracy Graham said. “Renewing it defines the support residents have for all of Audrain County and allows us to maintain an ambitious strategy for improvements countywide.”

According to Haeffner, the Missouri Department of Transportation inspects county bridges every two years. These inspections provide ratings, between 1 to 9, for three components of each bridge. These include a rating on the deck or the surface the vehicle drives upon, the superstructure and the substructure. Haeffner said the bridge on County Road 709 received a 4 on the deck and 5s on the superstructure and substructure.

“Any rating of four or lower makes a bridge eligible for federal funds for replacement,” he explained.

In addition to deterioration of the bridge structure, it also has a six-ton weight limit and a narrow width, which makes it difficult, if not impossible for farmers to use the bridge as a crossing when in certain types of machinery. Farmers along Audrain Road 709 have used a creek-water crossing, adjacent to the bridge, to get machinery across the waterway.

“As you probably guess, implements are not getting smaller by any means,” Associate Commissioner Leslie Meyer said. “If you compared machinery from the 1970s to what we have today, we are looking at loads that are not only significantly heavier, but also wider. This bridge is not suitable for the needs of the residents.”

Once replaced, the new structure’s plans include a longer and significantly wider bridge with an 80-ton weight limit. This will allow for modern implements. The design will model those upstream on Audrain Road 716. All plans are being designed through Cochran Engineering with an anticipated starting date of 2023 or 2024.

The county is also using federal funds for another eligible structure on the eastern side of the county. This one is located on Audrain County Road 525, which is southeast of Laddonia. Construction on this structure will begin later this year or in early 2023.

“These bridge replacements will be a great improvement for those who travel Audrain County Road 709, and especially so for the agricultural producers in the area who need a better bridge to get products to market,” said Presiding Commissioner Alan Winders.

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