Range Line closure for bridge project delayed

·2 min read

Jul. 13—Closure of Range Line Road for the demolition and construction of a new Kansas City Southern train bridge won't start next week as had been planned.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said Wednesday that work to move utility lines under the bridge has encountered delays and that railroad clearances for the work that will take place on the railroad's land have not been received yet.

Marvin Morris, area MoDOT engineer, said it could be a few weeks before a Range Line closure will happen as a result of the delays. It could possibly be shut down to traffic the second week of August, he said, although the highway department does not now know for certain when the closure will occur.

"Until we find out a firm start date, then we can see if it will impact the whole project. We hope it's just a short delay on the front side," Morris said.

While some of the utility moves have started on water lines, fiber optic lines, and electric lines and poles, all of that must be finished before the bridge is demolished, he said. MoDOT did not want to close Range Line, Joplin's busiest commercial corridor, if bridge work could not be done yet.

"The bridge is still safe, so we don't want to delay all those motorists" unnecessarily, Morris said.

Some of the utility companies have experienced unexpected setbacks in delivery of materials, Morris said. One of those is the delivery of new electric poles to relocate the electric lines, although Liberty Utilities has told MoDOT they may finish by the end of next week. The water company may be working four to six more weeks.

It is necessary that the electric poles and lines be moved to allow room for the bridge contractor to swing the girders of the new bridge into place.

The state's contract with the bridge contractor calls for entire completion by Dec. 1. But the road must be reopened by Nov. 1 under the contract terms, Morris said. An incentive will be paid to the contractor if Range Line can be reopened with 87 to 90 days, he said. Morris could not forecast when that reopening will come now because of the delay.

"Our intention is to hold the contractor to the contract" once the work can begin, Morris said.

The contractor, Hartman and Co. of Springfield, is working with the railroad company to review the plans on how the bridge will be demolished and how the new bridge will be erected. Some of those plans are not yet approved by railroad engineers, Morris said.

When the closure does start, entrances to businesses on both sides of the bridge, which is in the 2800 block, will be available but through traffic will not be possible, MoDOT has said.

The new bridge will be 2 feet higher and 15 feet wider. Sidewalks are to be built on both sides of the bridge.