Commissioners Linda Garrett, right, and John Casey, left, survey a low-water bridge over the Big Piney River near Baptist Camp. (File photo)

NEW at 5:51 p.m. Tuesday: The Texas County Commission and Cass Township announced last week that the bridge over the Big Piney River near Baptist Camp is closed after a state inspection found it unsafe.

Another bridge – Airport Bridge over the Piney River – also is closed following a review.

Officials said a safety inspection by the Missouri Department of Transportation determined that the Baptist Camp Bridge is sagging, and a crack has materialized. The bridge was last inspected two years ago.

Concrete barriers are in place at end of the bridge.

The bridge will end travel from U.S. 63 to Highway RA and on to the Texas County Baptist Association’s Baptist Camp, where several sessions are planned this summer. This week is middle school camp. A series of others follow.

County and state officials were at the scene Friday to develop a temporary fix until the structure can be replaced using funds available under a federal program. The Texas County Commission this week began advertising for an engineering firm.

The bridge’s closure will create a hardship for those living in the area. An alternate route require more travel time: Highway Z to Highway AU to Rocky Branch Road, left on Leo Drive and left on Camp Road.

“While it is always difficult to close a public roadway, safety of citizens and visitors are the first priority on officials’ minds. Some citizens have complained that the closings are not necessary as they have seen large loads crossing the structures. These comments are surely true, however, when the state mandates the closing and if the townships and county does not comply, a very serious liability issue falls directly on the local government agencies. Bridges of this size are normally too expensive to be replaced and/or repaired without the assistance of state and federal government agencies,” said John Casey, associate commissioner.

Shortly after receiving word of the bridge closings, County Clerk Don Troutman began the necessary paperwork to have ready for the county commission to request professional inspections of these structures by qualified engineering firms. “With the fast response from the local highway department offices in Willow Springs an engineering firm inspected both bridges on June 2,” said Casey.

Reports from the engineering firm were reviewed at Wednesday’s commission meeting. Casey said he wants to assure residents that use these two roadways that the county is working hard to make sure that public safety issues are addressed at the same time that responsible action is taken to resolve and correct the safety problems that these two bridge structures have.

EARLIER: The Texas County Commission and Cass Township announced this afternoon that the bridge over the Big Piney River at Baptist Camp is closing after a state inspection found it unsafe. 

Officials said a safety inspection by the Missouri Department of Transportation determined that the structure is sagging and a crack has materialized.

The bridge will end travel from U.S. 63 to Highway RA and on to the Texas County Baptist Association’s Baptist Camp, where several sessions are planned this summer.

Here’s an alternate route: Highway Z to Highway AU to Rocky Branch Road, left on Leo Drive and left on Camp Road.

Texas County and engineers are working toward a temporary fix before a more permanent solution can be determined.

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