MoDOT Organizes Media Tour of Rocheport Bridge Construction Site | Central Missouri News

ROCHEPORT — The Missouri Department of Transportation held a brief press conference and media tour of the Missouri River Bridge in Rocheport on Thursday afternoon.

The bridge, which began construction in October, is currently undergoing a construction phase on the westbound lane, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

The final configuration is expected to have three lanes of eastbound and westbound traffic by the project’s scheduled completion in 2024. Additionally, the shoulder lanes will be extended to eight feet and 12 feet.

MoDOT Project Director Brandy Baldwin said that from a community impact perspective, she sees the upcoming changes as both community and accessibility improvements.

“We’re dramatically reducing accidents, we’re putting in extra safety features on the bridge that aren’t there today,” Baldwin said. “With the extra lane width…it gives an extra area for people to pull off to the side and be stranded and or have vehicles or emergency vehicles recovered or even a way to divert existing traffic around crashes. on the bridge.”

The new bridge currently has three piers in place for the foundation, and workers were drilling shafts to establish the bridge’s permanent foundation. Baldwin says that despite the unexpected weather conditions last year, the project is still on track to be completed by the end of 2024.

“The river was a challenge for us, it was actually historically low last winter,” Baldwin said. “So our barges were sort of beached for a while. We’re floating again now, but we’re doing everything we can to stay on track.”

Rachel Holman is the owner and CEO of The Blufftop in Rocheport, a local winery and restaurant that overlooks the Missouri River Bridge. She took over the company in 2019 but has been an employee since 2013.

“It’s definitely going to impact our business, our operations, and the people who come to see us,” Holman said.

Holman owns a farm on the south side of the freeway and says she frequently uses I-70 for business.

“The BB road is a really important thing for us because it carries, you know, our harvesting equipment back and forth between the winery and our farm.”

For more than two years, she says MoDOT has been in touch with them about the project. On occasion, the MoDOT would hold meetings at their restaurant. She said even with that access, Holman was unaware of the plan to add a third lane of travel.

“I think that’s fantastic news, anything to speed up travel, especially on the 70,” Holman said. “I think anyone would be a fan of that particular bridge. We’ve seen a lot of backups there. We get a lot of traffic from people who have been sitting around for a while, needing a break. So I think it looks amazing.”

MoDOT and Holman plan to alert Rocheport residents of upcoming changes to I-70 as soon as possible. Although their motivations may be different, the result will be quite similar.

“We’re kind of waiting for information from MoDOT as to when they’re closing lanes and when they’re doing, you know, overpass closures and just trying to stay ahead of their schedule,” Holman said. “They were great to work with and super communicative. And really, really helpful letting us know and helping with signage.”

On Saturday, MoDOT is to host another session of what they call Superintendent Talk to let residents know about the progress of the bridge. Participants at the Katy Trail meeting will be able to hear directly from the project contractor.

Alice F. Ponder