The historic bridge at Devil’s Elbow was one of the main topics of discussion at the Thursday morning Pulaski County Commission meeting.
During the meeting, representatives from the Missouri Department of Transportation stopped by to introduce Jenni Jones, the senior transportation planner who will be working with the county. Jones and Dion Knipp, a transportation planning specialist, both stressed their desire to see the bridge rehab project move along as quickly as possible.
Spencer Jones, with Great River Engineering, also stopped by the meeting with some good news about the Devil’s Elbow Bridge.
He said final plans for the project should be submitted to MoDOT by Oct. 26, and the project will then begin accepting bids. Once bids are accepted, work is estimated to take approximately six months.
The Devil’s Elbow Bridge, part of the Historic Route 66, attracts visitors from around the world. Currently, work needs to be done to repair the bridge so it can safely support the weight of heavier vehicles, like busses. Extensive rust on the bridge is also a serious concern.
The estimated cost of the project is approximately $1,600,000. A large portion of that will be covered by grants.
After the meeting adjourned, Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham said he’s pleased to see the project advancing.
“I’ve been working on this for about two terms now,” he said, adding that he was running for a third term on the commission in the hopes of cutting the ribbon on the bridge once work is completed.
Farnham said the bridge is not simply a tourist attraction; it’s a beloved piece of history.
“This is a piece of our American history and if it gets torn down that’s one other piece that we’re going to lose,” he said. “The idea is that once it’s rehabbed, it’s going to go on the National Register of Historic Place.”
He added, “This has just got such history to it, people from all over the world come to see it.”
The truss bridge was constructed in 1923 and spans the Big Piney River. It has been declared one of the “seven scenic wonders of Missouri” by the Missouri Planning Commission.