April 24, 2013 Edition

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New Black River bridge
being built 'double strength'

Bridge builders use a vibrating motion to drive a 46-foot steel casing into the ground for the base of the future Black River bridge at Black Rock. If the rock tests solid below the casings, rebar will be placed in the casing before it is filled with concrete.

John Bland

Anyone driving north on U.S. Highway 63 has probably noticed the bridge construction underway just 15-feet to the side of the current Black River bridge at Black Rock.

Three tall cranes tower over the construction site, where construction materials have been stacked and approaches have been cleared of trees and vegetation.

The $40 million project, which includes the bridge and roadway approaches, has a completion date of 350 working days, said Randy Ennis, job superintendent with Jensen Construction Co.

The bridge will continue the five-lane highway format with four lanes and a center lane.

Ennis, who has been in the bridge construction business for 25 years, said this bridge is one of the strongest he has ever built.

"They really beefed this one up," Ennis said. "Everything's about double (strength)."

The bridge is being built extra-strong in order to make it earthquake proof, due to its close proximity to the New Madrid Fault.

A survey crew came prior to construction, which began in late Feburary or early March. Some 15 people are now working at the construction site.

Ennis said approximately 80 percent of the crew is local or from the surrounding area, while foremen, including himself, come from elsewhere. He is from Central Missouri.

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