Marion County officials dedicate new bridge near Withers Mill

By  Herald-Whig

Posted: Jul. 30, 2018 8:50 pm Updated: Jul. 30, 2018 9:03 pm

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Residents of the Withers Mill area west of Hannibal are relieved to have a new bridge carrying traffic over Bear Creek on Marion County Road 423.

The new two-lane bridge was dedicated Monday morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The span replaces a one-lane bridge that wasn’t wide enough or strong enough to allow passage by heavy trucks, school buses or farm equipment.

“This was needed for a long time,” said nearby resident Sharon White, who attended the ceremony with her husband, Charles. “The old bridge was really getting in bad shape, and a lot of the farmers couldn’t get across. So this is just fantastic.”

Anna Umsleet, who attends Providence Baptist Church just south of the bridge, said parishioners who live in the area are happy the bridge construction is finally over. County Road 423 was closed for several months while construction was underway.

“A lot of our people are from the other side of the bridge, and they would have to go a long way around to get to church,” Umsleet said. “So we’re really glad to have it open up again.”

The Rev. Bob Craig, the church’s pastor, said local motorists are relieved to know they can once again head north on County Road 423 rather than be forced to travel on Route MM to get to their destinations. Route MM has become unusually busy in recent months because of construction work taking place around Hannibal Regional Hospital.

“We were joining the herd going through (on Route MM) because we couldn’t come this way (over the Bear Creek bridge),” Craig said. “But now that we can come this way, it’s going to be so much better.”

Chester Bross Construction, which is headquartered along County Road 423, submitted the low bid of $421,996 to win the construction contract. The work was essentially completed about six weeks ago.

“This bridge definitely needed replacement,” owner Mark Bross said.

Bross said the new bridge has no weight restrictions, making it available to virtually any piece of heavy equipment or farm implement used in the area.

Marion County Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode, who was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, said the new bridge “is going to benefit this whole area.”

He said the previous bridge, built in 1940, had a restricted load limit that made it unsafe for many large vehicles to cross. He said the Missouri Department of Transportation had deemed it one of the two worst bridges in Marion County, so the Marion County Commission made it a priority to build a replacement.

“We’re very glad to have this replaced for safety reasons,” Bode said.

The other bridge still deemed by MoDOT to be most unsafe is the former state highway bridge that crosses the North Fabius River near Taylor.

The 201-foot-long span on County Road 313 was shut down for safety reasons Nov. 8. The county’s engineering consultant is in the process of designing a replacement. Bode said he expects construction bids to be let in November or December.

Hannibal to replace Mark Twain Lighthouse entirely with new lighting component

Hannibal to replace Mark Twain Lighthouse entirely with new lighting component

By  Herald-Whig

Posted: May. 15, 2018 9:40 pm Updated: May. 15, 2018 10:10 pm

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Last May the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department said that the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse would undergo its first major renovation since 1994.

Those plans have changed.

Parks Director Andy Dorian said at the Hannibal City Council meeting Tuesday that the lighthouse will be replaced entirely.

MECO Engineering was hired in November to perform a structural study and reported that “due to deterioration of a significant portion of the components comprising the structure, it does not appear feasible for the lighthouse to be repaired.”

The firm recommended that the structure be removed and a new lighthouse built on the current foundation.

“This isn’t something that shocked us. We’ve been Band-Aiding it for a while now,” Dorian said. “The lighthouse is a basic, hollow wood frame, and it’s easy for water to get in. We don’t want it to fall down, and with the bicentennial coming up, we think it’s time to get the lighthouse replaced.”

The Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse — purely ornamental and not meant for river navigation — was built in 1935 to commemorate Mark Twain’s 100th birthday. Strong winds leveled it in 1960, and three years later it was rebuilt. The lighthouse underwent a two-year renovation in 1994, and since then, severe water damage and rotting wood have taken a toll on the structure.

MECO estimates that the cost of building a new lighthouse is between $30,000 and $60,000. Dorian said the difference between the two figures arises because the city hasn’t discussed what materials to use in the rebuilding.

When the new structure is finished, the Hannibal Board of Public Works will install a new lighting component that will allow the city to illuminate the entire structure in different colors at night.

“Imagine seeing the lighthouse lit up in red, white and blue for the Fourth of July, pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, blue for Autism Awareness Month and so many more options,” Dorian said.

The council approved a resolution for the city to enter into an agreement with MECO Engineering to provide the design, bidding and construction phase of the reconstructed lighthouse.

Dorian said he thinks the lighthouse might be rebuilt by the end of this year. He added that the lighthouse is the city’s most vandalized object, and a new security camera has been purchased to help protect it.