State transportation officials say the first project in the governor’s “focus on bridges” program is now open to one lane of traffic. The state Department of Transportation (MoDOT) says a new Highway 72 bridge over Stouts Creek in southeast Missouri’s Iron County opened just before Christmas.

The state Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is replacing the old Highway 72 bridge over Stouts Creek in southeast Missouri’s Iron County. It was built in 1928. (December 2019 photo courtesy of MODOT’s Sally Oxenhandler)

The bridge, which is south of Farmington, connects Ironton and Fredericktown. It’s used by residents and farmers and also people heading to recreate in the area.

MoDOT says the 91-year-old bridge was in such poor condition that they didn’t want vehicles to cross it this winter. The construction contract called for a new bridge, which is being built alongside the 1928 bridge, to be open to one lane of traffic with temporary signals by December.

MoDOT Southeast District spokeswoman Nicole Thieret, who’s based in Sikeston, tells Missourinet MoDOT was able to switch traffic from the existing structure to the new structure in the morning hours on December 20.

MoDOT says the new bridge is expected to be fully completed by spring. Poplar Bluff-based Robertson Construction is the project contractor.

Governor Mike Parson (R) and Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) made the bridge bonding measure a priority during the 2019 legislative session. The $350 million measure, which had bipartisan support, will repair or replace 250 of the state’s poorest bridges.

During a February 2019 Missourinet story, Pro Tem Schatz credited Governor Parson for traveling to his district in eastern Missouri’s Franklin County in early 2019 to see one of the 250 bridges, adding that the need for investment in Missouri infrastructure is great.

“Very important, very critical for farmers to be able to get their crops, to get their animals to the market and making sure that those bridges are safe and secure,” Schatz said in that story.

MoDOT says the Highway 72 bridge is one of six in the “focus on bridges” program that’s currently under construction. 43 others are under contract.

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