J Highway bridge over Lick Creek reopens
The new J Highway bridge over Lick Creek at Howards Ridge opened to traffic Wednesday, Sept. 16, after being closed since April 27 so the old bridge, built in 1948, could be replaced. The new bridge, about 3 miles south of Highway 160, was originally projected to open in August, but heavy rain during the early part of the construction project caused the opening to be delayed a month.
The Missouri Depart-ment of Transportation said the new bridge, on a heavily used route between Gainesville and Mountain Home, Ark-ansas, is 26 feet wide and 236 feet long, replacing the old bridge, which was 20 feet wide and 218 feet long.
Contractor Phillips Hardy of Columbia was awarded the $1,481,739.65 contract during MoDOT contract letting in February.
Local residents expressed delight that the popular route was reopened, and it might be that no one was happier than members of the Lick Creek Volunteer Fire Department, whose district was cut in half by the closed bridge. With the bridge out, some members had to drive long distances or navigate rough gravel roads and low-water creek crossings to reach the other side of their district. While no major fires occurred while the bridge was closed, LCVFD member June Rowlett said the department has responded to 84 calls in 2020, most of them medical. “Having the bridge reopen is a blessing to us, especially because it means the ambulance can get to those medical calls a lot faster,” she said. “We’re tickled to death.”