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Rocheport Bridge construction progresses despite cold temperatures

Despite the slowdown in construction due to colder temperatures this week, the Interstate 70 Rocheport Bridge is still on schedule to be completed in December 2024.

Cordell Lenz, field engineer for Lunda Construction Co., spoke at an informational meeting Saturday, saying workers have to take more precautions to stay safe and warm during the colder seasons.

“We’re kind of used to the cold; we’ll work through it,” Lenz said. “But it’s just kind of whatever MoDOT allows us to do.”

The Lance Corporal Leon Deraps I-70 Missouri River Bridge will be expanded to three lanes in each direction once completed, the Missourian previously reported.

The progress made on the bridge since the last meeting includes erection of the girders, which are steel beams that provide the main structural element of the bridge.

Lenz said he hopes his team can finish the girder project by Thanksgiving or, at the very least, by the end of the week. This would entail erecting girders over the pier coming from the opposite direction of the girders that were erected a few weeks ago.

The portion of the Katy Trail underneath the interstate will remain closed until the girder project is complete, which was previously expected to be finished by Nov. 14.

An extended forecast for Boonville water levels predicted the gauge would reach a zero level by Dec. 14. Lenz said this means that the water levels of the river would decrease by 6 to 7 feet. To combat this, Lenz said a subcontractor ledger will excavate some of the soil and sand on the river to allow for a little more clearance.

He added that the water levels will not damage the bridge, but finding alternative methods to some of the smaller construction activities might be necessary.

Andrew Bertels, construction inspector for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said he hopes that by the time the gauge levels reach zero, the team is finished with construction on the river.

If the weather cooperates in the next month, the team will try to lay asphalt down on the bridge, Lenz added.

Bertels said that with freezing temperatures on Monday, MoDOT plans to put heaters under the bridge to provide some warmth to the workers.

On Monday, the team will begin a concrete deck pour on parts of the bridge, Bertels said.

In spring 2023, the bridge is projected to be completed, with the demolition of the original bridge taking place following in summer 2023.

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.