Construction continues on and around what will be the new Riverside Bridge in Ozark. The $3 million project caused some added road closures for people who live along Riverside and Greenbridge roads in the coming days.
Greenbridge Road reopened after is was closed until Sept. 27, as construction crews work to build what will be a new section of Riverside Road. Greenbridge Road runs east and west on the southern bank of the Finley River to the south of the historic Riverside Bridge area.
Christian County Highway Administrator Miranda Beadles is the project manager for the Riverside Bridge project, which is a partnership of three different governing groups: Christian County, the city of Ozark and the Ozark Special Road District.
An all-day concrete pour created the deck of the new Riverside Bridge during the week of Sept. 14-18.
“After that, the contractor will be working on approach slabs, guardrail, approach roadways, signing, striping and finishing items,” Beadles said.
The project has a completion date in October. Members of the Ozark Special Road District Board of Directors expressed concern that the completion would be delayed for the slow relocation of utility lines in the area which CenturyLink owns and maintains.
Beadles said that the utility relocation should not have much affect on the overall finishing date.
“Thanks to our Consultant, Great River Engineering, I believe a solution has been provided to get us around the utility conflicts and to keep the project moving forward,” Beadles said.
Efforts to reach CenturyLink for comment on the project were not successful.
In November 2019, the Christian County Commission voted 3-0 to accept a project bid for construction of a new bridge that will carry Riverside Road over the Finley River. The commission awarded the project to Springfield-based Hartman and Company, Inc. on Nov. 15.
The Christian County Commission is obligated to pay about $1.13 million of the overall cost, the Ozark Special Road District shares about $1.06 million, and the city of Ozark will pay about $825,000 in costs. Much of Ozark’s share is funded through a 3/8-cent transportation sales tax.
Planning for a new Riverside Bridge began in 2012, with a desire to preserve the history of the original bridge in mind for many along the way.
Christian County, the city of Ozark and the Ozark Special Road District partnered to share the cost of the new Riverside Bridge. The new bridge will have two 12-foot car lanes wide enough for school buses and emergency vehicles, a 10-foot bicycle and pedestrian lane and improved road approaches to the bridge between the intersections of Riverside Road and Greenbridge Road and Riverside Road and Smallin Road.
On Nov. 12, 2019, Christian County received word from MoDOT that the Hartman and Company, Inc. bid was acceptable.
Construction crews finished removing the historic Riverside Bridge from its place across the Finley River on Jan. 30, 2019. The bridge will be relocated south to a spot south of the McCracken Road bridge near Finley River Park, where it will be used as part of Bass Pro Shops’ Finley Farms development.
Access to the county's Riverside Inn Park remains restricted to the public during the project, as the land will be used to stage construction equipment.
Vehicles on Riverside Road were restricted to a weight of 12 tons, which causes difficulty for emergency vehicles and construction traffic. Riverside Road will be the key road used for construction of the new Riverside Bridge.
The Ozark Special Road District partnered with the city of Ozark to replace two undersized box culverts in July 2019. The special road district plans to conduct some resurfacing and overlay work on Riverside Road in 2020. It has already conducted some work on Smallin Road on the north side of the bridge.
Originally built in 1909, the original Riverside Bridge was located next to the Ozark Mill. Craftsmen later determined the bridge wasn’t wide enough to properly serve the location and it was moved approximately a mile and a half to the north, where it took Riverside Road across the Finley River.
The bridge has been closed since July 2015, when it was deemed unusable after flood waters and debris damaged the structure. When federal and state transportation officials called to destroy the bridge, Ozark resident Kris Dyer and some other Ozark residents teamed up through a nonprofit initiative, Save the Riverside Bridge.
Bass Pro Shops project managers selected a relocation site near the mill—where the famous “Chadwick Flyer” railroad once crossed the Finley. It will be installed following a review with the Corps of Engineers. An exact completion date has not been announced.
For further information about the new Riverside Bridge project, visit https://ozarkmissouri.com/465/38-cent-Transportation-Sales-Tax.