Traffic began flowing [August 16] over the nation’s first project to begin construction under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. After eighteen months of labor, the bridge spanning the Osage River near Tuscumbia, Mo. that garnered national and international media attention in February 2009 opened to drivers.
“Recovery act funds helped push the timetable up on this much needed project, supporting jobs in a bleak economy and creating a much safer passage over the Osage River for local citizens sooner than expected,” said Kevin Keith, MoDOT Interim Director in a press release. “Missouri showed the nation that transportation projects could indeed have an immediate impact on putting people to work.”
The opening culminated with an inaugural parade of vehicles representative of how the bridge connects the community and the region surrounding it, from Fort Leonard Wood army personnel to emergency responders, the Miller County R-III school district and local farmers. The local community also hosted a day-long event to celebrate the completion of the bridge.
“What an improvement! The citizens of Miller County have looked forward to and are very excited about the new and safer Osage River bridge,” said Tom Wright, Miller County Presiding Commissioner in a press release. “Construction of the new bridge was a very positive project in the community and the trickle-down effect from the stimulus provided work for several local people and businesses.”
The project supported 240 direct, indirect and induced jobs, from employees building the bridge to companies providing concrete, steel and new equipment, to local businesses providing fuel, lodging and food.
The new 970-foot bridge is a little shorter than the Depression-era span it replaced, but it is noticeably wider with two eleven-foot wide traffic lanes and three-foot wide shoulders.
The bridge provides an important route to major employers, including state government in Jefferson City, regional medical care units, the state’s fourth largest tourist destination at the Lake of the Ozarks and is a critical north-south route to and from the Fort Leonard Wood army base.
The Missouri Department of Transportation made history within minutes of President Barack Obama signing the recovery act into law on February 17, 2009, by signing a contract and beginning construction on the bridge and making it the nation’s first Recovery Act project.
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