ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – The new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge is just one day away from finally connecting Missouri and Illinois.
From Bommarito Automotive Skyfox, you could see years of planning, design and labor meet in the middle of the Mississippi.
“Today’s a big milestone,” said Mississippi River Bridge Project Director Randy Hitt. “We’re actually connecting the two side-edge girders, and that will essentially have the bridge connected on both sides.”
It was not a quick process. Hitt said crews settled in for full day of work.
“We had to do adjustments on cables and temporary jacking to get everything positioned perfectly in place.”
Crews scrambled to connect the new bridge in what engineers said was near-perfect sunny weather.
“It’s not too hot,” Hitt explained. “The bridge expands and contracts with the heat. Low wind today. So, all that just makes everything go a little bit easier.”
It all begged the question: Were the men and women feeling the same excitement on July 25, 2013 as the men who dropped in the final piece of the Arch in October 1965?
“It’s very significant,” Hitt said. “The bulk of the infrastructure is done. We still have a lot of work to do. But, this is definitely a huge milestone.”
But, the excitement was bittersweet. A member of the crew was gone. In March 2012, 35-year-old Andy Gammon died while helping to build this bridge.
“I think anyone in the labor force would be proud of the projects they work on,” Hitt explained. “And we’re happy to see that a portion of the approach was named in his honor.”
And the bridge will stand with a design life of at least one hundred years.
“Not to say that in a hundred years, it can’t last longer with proper maintenance and care,” Hitt pointed out. “It’s going to be around for a long time and a testament to the engineering and the skilled workforce that put this all together.”
Missouri Department of Transportation officials invited the public to come see the final piece of steel connect the bridge, starting at 9a.m. Friday. Spectators can watch from an old pumphouse at Mullanphy just east of Broadway, through the flood wall. Officials urge anyone who comes to keep the roads and bike trails clear. Here is a map to the pumphouse: http://www.newriverbridge.org/documents/viewingplatform.pdf.
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