A public hearing on renovations to the Larry Gene Taylor Memorial Bridge that crosses Table Rock Lake in Shell Knob was held last Monday at the Shell Knob School gymnasium with Missouri Department of Transportation's (MoDOT) Becky Baltz, District 7 engineer, and Dan Salisbury, District 7 assistant district engineer, in attendance.
Baltz and Salisbury were on hand to answer questions from the public regarding the manner in which the major portion of the work, which includes removal and replacement of the bridge deck, will take place.
Central Crossing Fire Chief Rusty Rickard was there, questioning whether emergency vehicles would still have access to residents south of the bridge.
Baltz said emergency vehicles will still be able to respond to those calls.
Plans call for one lane of traffic to be closed while the old decking is pulled off and the bridge resurfaced, while still allowing traffic access to the remaining lane.
Motorists should be aware that the traffic lane will only measure nine-feet, six inches, and those having larger vehicles will need to plan alternate access routes.
Temporary traffic signals will control the flow of traffic for the one lane, which extends 1,440 feet, but motorists should expect some delays and plan accordingly, said Salisbury.
The bridge, which was dedicated in memory of the late Senator Larry Gene Taylor in 2008, was originally built in 1958, and was last painted in 1971.
Salisbury said that the main structure of the bridge is still sound. After the decking is replaced, crews will clean and paint the splash zone, or approximately three feet of structure.
Salisbury said the scope of that work might continue past the Memorial Day 2013 timeline. As funding allows, the remaining portions of the structure will also be painted.
"This bridge was built over 50 years ago," Salisbury said. "When this work is completed, there is no reason for it not to last another 50 years."
The nearly $6 million project is funded through both state and federal sources. Federal funds will pay for approximately 80 percent of the work with the state picking up the remaining 20 percent.
Baltz said this is one of approximately 73 bridge projects planned for District 7 over a five-year period. Many of the other projects will include smaller, rural bridges as part of the state's Safe and Sound bridge repair program, which does not qualify for federal funding.
Work on the Shell Knob project is expected to begin after Labor Day 2012 and be completed by Memorial Day 2013 to allow for the busy tourist season.
More information on this and other District 7 projects may be found on the Internet at www.modot.org.