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MoDOT drops I-70 bridge into Missouri River

Posted 9/12/23

The old steel Interstate 70 bridge crossing the Missouri River at Rocheport is no more. Crews detonated charges Sunday morning, dropping the truss of the 63-year-old bridge into the river.

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MoDOT drops I-70 bridge into Missouri River


The old steel Interstate 70 bridge crossing the Missouri River at Rocheport is no more. Crews detonated charges Sunday morning, dropping the truss of the 63-year-old bridge into the river.

Interstate traffic was halted prior to the scheduled demolition and resumed once crews cleared debris and inspected the new bridge, which was opened in July.

The blast was scheduled to take place around 7:30 a.m. but was delayed due to fog.

A 2,000-foot perimeter around the bridge was closed, including portions of the Katy Trail and the Missouri River. But that didn’t stop spectators from watching the demolition from river access areas. The Les Bourgeois Bistro and A-Frame Winegarden along the Missouri River bluffs in Rocheport opened at 7 a.m. for onlookers.

The detonation dropped 1,100 feet of truss, including 6 million pounds of steel, into the Missouri River. The demolition team was tasked with removing the pieces of the truss from the river within 24 hours of the blast in order to reopen the river channel to boat and barge traffic.

The old continuous two-span subdivided truss bridge over the Missouri River and the Katy Trail connected Boone and Cooper counties, spanning 3,018 feet. It was constructed in 1960 and underwent extensive rehabilitation in 1993.

The demolition invokes memories from 25 years ago when MoDOT performed a similar detonation of the Missouri River Bridge between Howard County and Boonville.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), the bridge carried 34,000 vehicles and 8,227 commercial vehicles daily. The 2015 State Freight Plan estimates between 31 and 46 million tons of freight moves through this corridor valued at slightly less than $100 billion.

In 2011, nearly 600 million tons of pass-through freight moved through, making up nearly 59 percent of the total tonnage of goods moving through the state. Almost 40 percent of the pass-through freight moves by truck, primarily on the interstate system. Current projections indicate that the pass-through traffic will increase in the future, reinforcing the role of Missouri as a Freight Connector State.

MoDOT said the old Rocheport Bridge had reached the end of its useful life and was deemed in need of significant rehabilitation that would have required restricting I-70 traffic to one lane in each direction for an extended period of time, potentially causing hours of backups. This rehab would have only extended the useful life of the bridge by about 10 years.

The new bridge was designed with a life span of 100 years. MoDOT says it is constructed with safety enhancements that will help to reduce crashes. It will also provide twice the width of the old bridge, allowing for the expansion of Interstate 70.

Other innovative enhancements on the new bridge include a high friction surface treatment and pavement sensors to reduce weather-related incidents, wet reflective striping, and a linear delineation system (a line of reflective signs along the barrier wall) to help make the lanes and the bridge more visible.

In addition to the state’s focus on bridges, Missouri is currently expanding I-70 to six lanes (three heading west and three heading east) across the entire state. Governor Mike Parson signed the nearly $3 billion bill last month in hopes to relieve traffic congestion along a 200-mile stretch of I-70 between St. Charles and Blue Springs.


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