EUREKA — The crumbling, 90-year old Allenton bridge, which is slated to be replaced within two years due to its poor condition, is now closed to southbound traffic and reduced to a single lane.
Eureka officials converted the bridge to one-way traffic earlier this week after Missouri Department of Transportation officials advised the city that the bridge no longer can safely handle two-way traffic.
The bridge is located on the south side of Interstate 44, near the Six Flags-Allenton exit. It carries cars over a set of railroad tracks. The bridge has been on MoDOT’s radar for at least a decade and has consistently garnered a rating of “poor” for its substructure and the worse rating of “serious” for the components which support the deck.
Although the bridge is owned by Eureka, it is subject to MoDOT inspections. While most bridges are inspected every two years, MoDOT changed the schedule for the Allenton bridge to annually, City Administrator Craig Sabo said.
“They reached a point where they want to reduce the weight limit,” Sabo said.
Eureka Mayor Sean Flower said in a Facebook post last week that “there is not enough room for two cars to safely pass or see each other as they pass on the bridge, and the bridge can no longer safely handle this two-way traffic structurally.”
Dozens of residents commented on the post, many expressing concerns about emergency vehicles not being able to reach their homes as quickly, since all bridge traffic now flows away from the residential area. Sabo said about 1,000 people live in the few hundred homes just south of the bridge.
Until this week, as a two-way bridge, about 1,000 cars crossed it daily.
Plans for a replacement bridge have been discussed for the last several years. Funding has been a key issue, and the city was able to get a grant from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments that will cover 50 percent of the estimated cost of just over $4 million. The city will pay the other half with proceeds from a half-cent sales tax that voters passed in 2018. The tax, which is in effect until 2038, is also earmarked for flood control measures and a new police station.