05 September 2012
Missouri Department of Transportation and other US state and federal agencies have announced the start of the environmental assessment process for a new US 54 Mississippi River Bridge at Louisiana.
The estimated cost of the new bridge is up to US$100 million. In the last 10 years, nearly US$6 million has been spent on maintaining the 84-year-old existing Champ Clark Bridge, a five-span truss structure.
"Even though construction of a new bridge is not currently funded, the environmental assessment, or EA, is a necessary element that has to be completed before a project of this magnitude can begin construction," said MoDOT's northeast district engineer Paula Gough.
The environmental assessment process, which could take more than two years, will help MoDOT eventually identify the location in which a new bridge will be built. "This area is rich in history and in a unique environment, and completing the EA will take the involvement of numerous key stakeholders and citizens from all over the region on both sides of the River," she added.
The first step in the EA process is to identify a project study group, and Gough introduced those who will be involved in the project study group. They included the Sny Levee District, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Federal Highway Administration, the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the US Coast Guard, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Fish & Wildlife.
One of the first tasks of the project study group is to develop a public involvement plan as a means to include key stakeholders and citizens in this process.
"Completing an environmental assessment is not a quick process, but it is thorough and necessary to satisfy the National Environmental Policy Act requirements," said Gough. "A new bridge is certainly a wonderful vision not only for this region, but for both our states," she added. The construction of a new bridge is not funded, yet has been identified as a priority project by the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments and MoDOT.