BRUMLEY, Mo. — An historical engineering marvel and unique must-visit experience in the Lake of the Ozarks area was closed today, at least temporarily. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) says the Brumley Auglaize Swinging Bridge is no longer safe for drivers, or even pedestrians.
The bridge, which was designated a National Historic Place in 2020, belongs to Miller County. MoDOT Engineer Bob Lynch says county officials contacted MoDOT on Wednesday, Jan. 6 with a concern. He explained: “Basically, these cables go into a concrete block that’s buried in the ground, and when Miller County was cleaning up the vegetation around that area, that’s when they discovered some issues with that concrete anchoring system.” A MoDOT engineer was called out and determined the bridge was unsafe for any load, and the bridge was given a “2” rating, which means it must be closed to vehicles and pedestrians, Lynch explained, adding the bridge had previously been rated for only 3 tons. MoDOT personnel stayed on the scene, Lynch said, until Miller County could effectively close off the bridge to all traffic.
Now it will be on Miller County’s commission to determine what will happen to the bridge. “We’ll still provide resources and assistance if they have questions about what’s available, in terms of resources and funds,” Lynch said, adding, “There is federal funding that passes through MoDOT that goes to counties for off-system bridges… we also have a bridge-engineering assistance program that counties can use in hiring engineers to look for solutions.”
The commission could not be reached on Wednesday for comment.
Commonly known as simply “the swinging bridge,” the 500-foot-long structure was built in 1931 by bridge-builder Joseph Dice, who planned for it to last 60 years at the most, according to Miller County Museum archives. The wire suspension bridge is regularly used by some area residents who would otherwise have to travel a significantly longer route to access main roads. But it is loved by many in the community and visitors for whom it is a popular sightseeing destination. Brave ones take a drive across, while others prefer to watch from non-swinging, solid ground.
For now, no one will be driving across, and the fate of the swinging bridge once again hangs in the balance.