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Commissioners eye Mockingbird Hill Bridge

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Mockingbird Hill Bridge

The one-lane Mockingbird Hill Bridge spans an offshoot of Piper Creek northwest of Bolivar High School. County officials are considering replacing the bridge.

Polk County commissioner Kyle Legan noted two incompatible facts about Mockingbird Hill Bridge, which conveys traffic between Mo. 83 and Rt. D on South 122nd Road and straddles an offshoot of Piper Creek just northwest of Bolivar High School. 

“A bus goes over it twice a day every day,” he told the BH-FP at Monday’s commission meeting, adding, “and it’s getting bad under the bridge.”

County officials are looking to utilize state and federal aid to replace the 43-foot structure, which records show was built in 1900. 

“With it being single lane this close to town, it’s time,” Legan said. 

Curves on South 122nd Road lead into both sides of the bridge, which is beginning to develop potholes on its topside. 

However, it’s the underside that the Missouri Department of Transportation has taken notice of.

Polk County Public Works supervisor Danny Crites said the state inspects every bridge that has an underside spanning at least 25 feet every two years. 

An inspection several years ago noted that the Mockingbird Hill Bridge would need to be replaced, Legan said. 

“It’s been on their radar for six or seven years, I’d guess,” he said. “It’s been a while.”

Legan said the county is expecting to take advantage of BRO funds, a joint federal and state program that shoulders part of the cost of the project. 

“That’s one we’re able to build with some federal and state funds, so it won’t cost Polk County taxpayers all the money to replace it,” he said. 

The process of building up matching funds takes time, Legan said. 

Commissioner Rex Austin also pointed out that before the bridge project can be approved, studies must be conducted to determine if protected species live in the area.

“After the engineers get through, you’ve got to deal with the possibility that a gray bat may be living under there or that a snail darter (fish) is there,” he said. 

Legan said he isn’t certain of the final cost of the project. 

Officials talked with representatives from Springfield-based Great River Engineering about the project earlier this year, and Legan said they’re hoping to build the new bridge next to the old one, so the crossing can remain open during construction.

“It’d be next year, I imagine, before it’s completed, because we’re just in the preliminary stages now,” he said. 

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