The North Skunk River Greenbelt Association (NSRGA) and Workin' Bridges have been given the green light by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) for a conceptual agreement to begin the fundraising efforts to restore the Gasconade Bridge at Hazelgreen.

According to a press release from the organization, a new by-pass bridge has been designed and will be constructed in 2018, leaving the current bridge, which has been closed, at risk for demolition.

The Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians have been leading an effort to preserve the bridge and MoDOT has agreed to let the efforts begin to find the funding required.

"Let me be clear, the historic bridge is stall at risk for demolition unless sufficient funding for restoration can be acquired in the next fourteen months," the press release warned.

MoDOT said in a separate press release that the plans for the new by-pass bridge will be shared at a public meeting scheduled for Monday, Nov. 6 at Laclede Electric Cooperative.

"No formal presentation will be made, but Missouri Department of Transportation staff will be available to provide information and answer questions. The bridge designs and other information will also be available on MoDOT’s website at www.modot.org/central," MoDOT said.

According to MoDOT's press release about the new bridge, it will be "on a new alignment adjacent to the existing Gasconade River Bridge" and construction is set to begin in the summer of 2018.

"Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, MoDOT accepted proposals through Sept. 30 from parties interested in preserving the current structure. MoDOT is now negotiating with Workin’ Bridges, a private organization that works to save old bridges from demolition, to take ownership of the 90-year-old bridge in its existing location," MoDOT said.

Workin' Bridges said in its press release that the goal is to raise $10,000 to get started on the engineering and planning.

Jackie "Jax" Welborn has been designated the project manager and is the point of contact for . Welborn told the Daily Guide Friday afternoon that the organization actually plans to hold a Bridge Hall Meeting, a town hall style meeting, at the bridge on Nov. 5 at 11 a.m. to walk and talk with locals to discuss the organization's plans. Executive Director of Working Bridges Julie Bowers will also be present at the meeting.

According to Working Bridges, a current estimate by MoDOT says the repair work on the bridge's two Parker Trusses, on Pratt truss, and Warren Pony Truss, built in 1923 and designed by MoDOT, will cost over $3 million.

"The Workin' Bridges qualified engineers and craftsmen will assess the bridge for possible phased options and costs that may differ from MoDOTs assessment. These real numbers, captured as Scope of Work and Estimates are required so that informed decisions can be made, for potential grants. Work with MoDOT on a risk management plan for their new bridge and the Interstate 44 bridge is being negotiated. We have proposed a Trust Account that would be in place for a catastrophic event, as well as utilizing the interest for future biannual inspections and site and security," Working Bridges said in its press release.

The organization says design ideas are welcome and are looking for developers for the property due to its location on Route 66.

"Route 66 has always been a mecca for travelers worldwide and with this bridge repaired the potential for crossing on special event days may still be an option as engineering will return the bridge to its former function," Working Bridges said.

The next stages for the organization include raising the money for the repairs through pledges, grants, and donations in order to reach their $3.5 million goal by Dec. 31, 2018.

"That money will go to repairing the piers and abutments that hold the spans up, the stringer and roadway replacement, floor beam repair. The deck, or at least a portion of the deck will be removed by MoDOT using their demolition funds for that purpose. The lead paint abatement solution is still to be determined," Workin' Bridges said.

Additionally, Workin' Bridges reported in its press release that NSRGA has begun the process to become a nonprofit organization in the state of Missouri.

Workin' Bridges has a Facebook page where interested individuals can find out updates, more information, or even donate to the cause located at https://www.facebook.com/rte66gasconderiverbridgerehab/. According to Workin' Bridges, donations are tax deductible.