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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • History restored: Grand opening for Devils Elbow Bridge is this weekend

  • This weekend the community will celebrate the completion of a project that has been at least ten years in the making.
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  • This weekend the community will celebrate the completion of a project that has been at least ten years in the making.
    The Pulaski County Commissioners announced on Monday that there will be a Grand Opening for the Route 66 Devil's Elbow Bridge on Saturday, June 7 at 10:30 a.m.
    The Grand Opening was originally planned for October, but construction on the bridge was completed ahead of schedule, just in time for peak tourism season in Pulaski County.
    The Pulaski County Commission took note of the bridge’s deteriorating condition—including severe rusting, cracked substructure and considerable soil loss near the south abutment—several years ago and began working to secure funding for a $1.3 million restoration project.
    The funding for the project was found last year when the county commission was able to combine Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Bridge Replacement Off-System (BRO) and MoDOT’s Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds with a mixture of grant monies awarded. MoDOT BRO and STP funds are covering 80 percent of the project, and the Missouri Department of Economic Development Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) along with a small grant from the National Parks Service and a local match from Pulaski County make up the remaining project funding.
    Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) helped prepare the CDBG, STP and National Park Service grant applications and is serving as the administrator for the $250,000 CDBG grant awarded.
    Not only will the rehabilitation of the project address safety issues, it also maintains the historical significance of the structure.
    Built in 1923, the bridge was part of the original Route 66. The portion of the nostalgic highway that passes through Devil’s Elbow, however, proved to be dangerous and soon came to be called “Bloody 66.”
    “We are very fortunate here in Pulaski County to have 33 original miles of Route 66, and we are internationally known for that,” Pulaski County Tourism Bureau Director Beth Wiles said, noting that the stretch is also known as one of the most beautiful in the country.
    “They look at Route 66 as that key component of America,” Wiles said of the international travelers.
    The influx of tourists seeking a part of American history is greatest from April through October, and brings tourism dollars not just to businesses near the bridge like the Elbow Inn, but also into the cities of Waynesville and St. Robert.
    According to the HAER Bridge Inventory, a list of historic bridges in Missouri, the Devil’s Elbow Bridge may be eligible for a place on the National Register of Historic Places. It is believed to be one of the earliest examples of Missouri State Highway Department long-span truss design still in existence.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Devils Elbow Bridge is also one of only two remaining bridges in the state containing a curve. The second is the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis, which was recently converted to a pedestrian bridge. Wiles added that it is the only curved bridge on the original Route 66 still open to traffic.
    Phillips Hardy, Inc., out of Columbia, is the general contractor for the project. The contractor was selected through a competitive bid process.­­­­
    For individuals interested in touring the 33 mile stretch of Route 66 in Pulaski County, a turn-by-turn brochure is available for download at visitpulaskicounty.org. Alternately, the brochure is available in audio format for listening as you drive the route.

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