(KMOV) – A Franklin County bridge considered to be the worst bridge in Missouri is cracking, and that has school administrators so concerned they have banned their school buses from crossing the span.
Bend Road Bridge on Highway N in Franklin County is 97 years old. It crosses the Meramec River just south of Pacific and is still a vital route to cross the river.
Officials want to replace the bridge and have tried to get the money but their request last year was turned down.
They’ve been told if they don’t repair the cracks, the bridge will have to close and that would create a major inconvenience for area residents.
Last week, engineers found cracks in the structural steel and have lowered the weight limitations for the bridge from 18 to 12 tons. A large bus weighs 14 tons.
"We had one large bus going across that was immediately put to a stop and until I receive further information from Franklin County we've stopped all buses. We have several small buses that go across,” said Randy George, superintendent of Meramec Valley R-III Schools.
That will increase travel time for some bus routes by 15 minutes and force some residents to take a ten mile detour.
"We really need the additional equipment to replace it and I think everybody knew it and again, and unfortunately the money gets put in other priorities. and push has come to shove at this point and we really need the money from East West Gateway and we really need it now,” said John Greisheimer, the presiding county commissioner.
East West Gateway is the agency that doles out the state and federal road construction funds to local communities. A decision will be made by them in late spring on whether to fund a new bridge.
$200,000 has been set aside to buy up property for the right of way for a new bridge and that’s a good sign.