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.