POWELL — The new Powell bridge which is located in the town of Powell in the southern part of McDonald County, is now completed and opened for traffic in early February.

POWELL — The new Powell bridge which is located in the town of Powell in the southern part of McDonald County, is now completed and opened for traffic in early February.

The new bridge is located near the old ironclad bridge – which dates back to 1915, and both span Big Sugar Creek.

“The construction crew started in July 2013,” said Virginia Hall, a board member of the Powell Historical Preservation Society. On Aug. 7, and Aug. 8, the flood washed away the dirt work that Lehman Construction Co. had started for the new bridge. That resulted in about a three-week delay for them. So to actually build the new bridge took about from the first part of September to Jan. 30 2014. That also included the guard rails, and taking about five months in all.”

The new bridge is a three-span, 275-foot long bridge with a concrete deck and concrete rail on the side. It is made for two lanes of traffic.

As far as why the building of a new bridge, Hall explained.

“The old bridge was no longer rated high enough to carry heavy loads,” she said. “So for some years, the school bus could not use the bridge, neither could emergency vehicles. To help with the weight load, a height limit was also put on the old bridge. After doing so, delivery vehicles and emergency vehicles could no longer use the old bridge. All of these types of vehicles had to find another longer route around.”

And the old bridge will still be used but in different capacities.

“Once McDonald County (Commission) signs the old bridge over to the Powell Historical Preservation Society, preparations for the rehabilitation work on the old bridge will start,” said Hall. “We are in hopes that anyone that wishes to take their engagement pictures, graduation pictures, anniversary pictures, birthday groups, and perhaps even a small wedding, would consider our beautiful historic bridge for their purpose.”

The Historic Powell Bridge is listed on the National Register, the first structure in McDonald County.

“The way the old bridge was built was in a unique way, because of using the two different types of trusses, even for those days,” she said. “And being pin-connected, still in use today made it even more so.”

A formal dedication of the bridge is planned for in the next few months.

“We are planning a formal dedication once the new flooring and child safety rails are completed,” she said. “(It was mentioned that a good time would be August of this year), that was the date the old bridge opened for traffic.”

Overall, the preservation society is pleased with the new bridge.

“Our group is very pleased with the construction and looks of the new bridge,” Hall said. “This is a bridge that all of McDonald County can be proud of and to think that such a bridge was built here in our little corner of the county.”