After heavy rains and high water levels put a damper in their construction schedule, the Missouri Department of Transportation is now aiming for mid-June as the completion date for the Big Lost Creek Bridge replacement in Seneca.


After heavy rains and high water levels put a damper in their construction schedule, the Missouri Department of Transportation is now aiming for mid-June as the completion date for the Big Lost Creek Bridge replacement in Seneca.

The Big Lost Creek Bridge, located on Missouri Highway 43 in downtown Seneca, is getting a total replacement as part of MoDOT’s ongoing Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement program.

Greg Chapman, Joplin resident engineer for MoDOT, said crews now plan to close the bridge May 21, with the entire project to be completed by mid-June. However, he said, any more rain could delay the project even further. The original date for the bridge closure had been scheduled for early March.

“You know really what’s going on there is APAC, the contractor working on the project, they right now are just fighting the high water,” Chapman said. “Really, that’s what’s kind of held them up and that’s what’s slowing them down. They’re trying to work out some plans to de-water and lower that portion.”

Contractors from APAC approached the Seneca City Council at their April 23 meeting, and requested permission to temporarily take out a portion of the low water bridge, which runs parallel to the Big Lost Creek Bridge and is located on Bluff Street, to help lower the water levels in the creek. However, council members expressed concern for the condition of the low-water crossing following such a project, and opted not to allow the action.
Chapman said as an alternative, contractors have brought in additional pumps, and have been working around the clock.

“That creek fluctuates so much, the water level goes up and it really has affected them,” Chapman said. “Without the rains, things would’ve probably gone much smoother, but really the weather is what’s affecting them. They’re implementing additional pumps to try to lower the water level, and inside their cofferdam they’ve also got additional pumps.”

APAC contractors had also expressed concerns in the April 23 council meeting that the Department of Natural Resources requirements would only allow them in the water until a certain date, then believed to be June 1. There had been fear that with the high water levels and because of the time limitation, the bridge may have to be left undone, and completed when the DNR requirements allow them back into the creek August 1.
Chapman said contractors have worked with the DNR, and their current schedule of completing in June has been approved.

However, weather could still threaten the timeline of the project, and Chapman said he was not sure how long of a period the DNR had agreed to.

“I will say, though, that if a huge rain comes in and it does cause the water level to rise and they can’t get in there for another week or two then that could be a different story,” Chapman said. “There are some questions there and there have been some approvals obtained and right now everything’s approved and good to go, so we’re keeping the fingers crossed that the weather will work with them and they can really keep on going in accordance with the schedule.”

Weather permitting, the second phase of the project, scheduled to begin May 21, would require a full bridge closure. Chapman said that closure would run until the June date when the bridge is hoped to be complete.
Once the bridge is closed, the official detour for Highway 43 traffic will be signed along U.S. 60, Oklahoma State Route 10, and Oklahoma State Route 10C, though local traffic may use nearby city streets and county roads to navigate around the closing.

The 82-year-old bridge is one of 802 bridges across the state being replaced or improved by MoDOT before 2013 as part of the Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program.