LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — The historic Grand Auglaize Swinging Bridge in Brumley, Mo., is in a state of disrepair. But the bridge is a local favorite and a popular destination for adventurous tourists, residents and vacationers alike.
In 2018, a Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) report determined the bridge was in poor condition, and the community rallied in support of saving this unique landmark. (Read about the MoDOT report here.) So what might 2020 hold for The Grand Auglaize Bridge?
To give some background, the Grand Auglaize Bridge is the bigger of two wire suspension Swinging Bridges in Brumley. The smaller bridge, the Mill Creek Bridge, is is better condition than the Grand Auglaize. The bridges are located about 1,000 ft apart, off Highway 42 in Miller County. The Grand Auglaize Bridge was built in 1922 and is 500 feet long with a span of 414 feet, making it one of the longest wire suspension bridges in Missouri. The bridge is eligible for the National Register of History Places and is still used today in spite of its sub-par 3-ton capacity rating.
In 2015, the Grand Auglaize Bridge was rated as being structurally deficient due to its poor superstructure condition. Then came the 2018 study, downgrading the Grand Auglaize Bridge to "Poor Condition."
County officials and supporters from the business community are not about to let the landmark go down. Miller County Presiding Commissioner Tom Wright says the bridge needs $50,000 worth of improvements to raise it from its current three-ton capacity rating up to an acceptable five tons, and they have some corporate partners in mind to help with raising the needed funds.
"There is a lot of history in the bridge, and we're exploring all options in order to save it," Wright said. "We will be making repairs on the bridge this spring if bids come in when we start the process. The extent of the repairs will be determined by the money that will be committed to bridge project."
If the county is unable to raise the full $50,000, there are other options. "We were presented different options for the repairs with different costs but we would like to do the highest rated option if the money is available," Wright said. At the very minimum, damaged hangers will need to be repaired or replaced, which will run $12,000 plus the cost of engineering.
According to Wright, in its current state, the Grand Auglaize Bridge will only be usable for 3-5 more years unless minimal repairs are made.
"Considering the bridge's original lifespan was estimated at 50 years, it has done very well, he said.
"If time runs out to repair the bridge and it's deemed unusable for drivers or pedestrians, it will be shut down," he said. However, if that were to happen, it wouldn't be a lost cause. "If it's deemed unsafe, we will close it down... We will still continue talks to see about its future," Wright said.