LATER TRANSPORTATION

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Boonville Bridge shortly after building in 1924.

BOONVVILLE  HIGHWAY 40 BRIDGE

 

Prior to 1924, the only way that travelers could cross the Missouri River between Boonville and New Franklin was by ferry. The first Boonville Highway 40 Bridge was dedicated on July 4, 1924.  It was originally planned to be a toll span bridge, but the resourcefulness of Col. T.A. Johnson and Col. John Cosgrove was largely responsible for a quick change in plans. They were able to arrange for federal and state financial aid which made the bridge toll free.

 

The bridge was opened on July 4, 1924 with a grand celebration in which the Mayors of Boonville and New Franklin each walked to the center of the bridge and shook hands.

 

The new bridge offered more freedom to motorists as the new bridge could now be used in all weather, whereas the ferries were halted in winter and during storms.  Plus, commuters could travel across the river much more quickly than taking the ferries. Once the bridge was opened, there was no longer a need for the ferries and they ceased to operate.

 

The original steel frame bridge had a tongue and groove cypress wood floor.  Unfortunately, the wood floor did not fit together perfectly and the unevenness caused the bridge to sway a bit when used. In freezing weather the boards became slick with ice and caused many accidents.  Then, the wood began to rot and it was time to upgrade the floor.

 

In 1937 the wooden bridge floor was replaced with a corrugated steel floor, which also became slick in freezing wet weather.  Salt was useless as it fell through the floor into the river.  The unevenness of the corrugated steel grates also made staying in your own lane a challenge. The grates were especially hard on the older, narrow tires which often became stuck in the steel grates. People from both counties complained about the new floor, which was also very noisy.

 

Eventually a walkway on the side of the bridge was added for pedestrians.

 

Eventually, the two-lane bridge proved to be too narrow for larger, more modern cars and trucks and the complaints too frequent.

 

The flood of 1993 was devastating to Boonville and New Franklin, and all along the Missouri River, as the flood waters eventually crested at 37.10 feet.  It was the most massive flood in the Boonslick history, and the water stayed above flood stage for 49 days.

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Hwy 40 near Fredrick Hotel

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Old Boonville Hwy 40 Bridge Floor

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Old Hwy 40 Bridge

It was evident that a new bridge needed to be constructed with a much higher elevation, and  also better adapted to modern transportation.

In 1997-1998 the old bridge was demolished (actually blown up) and was replaced by the current concrete bridge. 

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Blasting of the old Hwy 40 Bridge

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Blasting of the old Hwy 40 Bridge

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Construction of the new Hwy 40 Bridge

The new Highway 40 bridge, a 21-million-dollar project, was dedicated on September 9, 1997.  The two driving lanes are each 12 feet wide with an 8-foot shoulder.  There is also a six-foot Pedestrian walkway that is separated from the highway by concrete barrier.

 

References:

Discover Cooper County by Looking Back by Ann Betteridge

Susan Fortman – “Taming a River: The Boonville Bridge

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This is the first car to travel over the new Boonslick Bridge in 1998.  The Driver is Kenneth Grotjan of New Franklin and Wayne Lammers is videotaping the event.  Wayne Lammers worked out this event with the Engineer of the project. He is taking the photo and that's his truck behind the car. Mr. Grotjan owned a gas station on the north side of the bridge. He was so proud to be the first to drive over the bridge.