Washington Missouri River Bridge receives TIGER funding; Katy Trail-Washington bike/ped path moves forward

Everyone who has biked or walked on the eastern portion of the Katy Trail knows that the connection between the Katy Trail and the city of Washington--just across the river to the south of the trail--is one of the most difficult and dangerous on the entire trail.

The existing Hwy 47 river bridge is narrow with no shoulders and at end-of-life
The existing Hwy 47 river bridge is narrow with no shoulders and is nearing the end of its useful life. It is the only opportunity to cross the river for many miles.

Now that situation is about to change for the better, and in large part because of sea change in attitudes among MoDOT and local community leaders about the need for inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian access across major river bridges.

In years past, inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian access on Missouri River bridges was always a protracted struggle.  Now, MoDOT and local communities are banding together to ensure that good, safe bicycle and pedestrian access is included on major river bridges where it is needed.

The proposed new Washington Missouri River Bridge is an example of this new attitude.  The new bridge will include a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian path that will create a safe connection between the city and the Katy Trail, which lies on the opposite side of the bridge.

Community leaders and MoDOT have worked hard to ensure that the bridge is safe and accessible for people who walk and bicycle, but also that there are good connections between the bridge and the community on the south side of the river, and the bridge and the Katy Trail, which lies some distance to the north of the river.

Bike/ped access across the bridge is vital not only because local access across the river and to the nearby Katy Trail is important, but because of a number of important regional, statewide, and national bicycle and trail routes depend on the Washington bridge as an essential connection.  Crossing today's narrow, rickety bridge is dangerous and annoying for motorists and bicyclists, and essentially impossible for pedestrians. 

The bridge acts as a vital connection for these regional and national routes:

Recently the effort to rebuild the Washington Hwy 47 bridge got a big boost in the form of a $10 million federal TIGER grant.  The e-Missourian has details about the new funding source and how it will help fund the bicycle and pedestrian portion of the project:

The new proposed bridge over the Missouri River at Washington received a major boost recently. The total approved for the Washington bridge is $10 million. . . .

Wagner thanked the counties, various agencies and community groups for their letters of support that were included with the application, as well as the bridge committee for its work in the application process.

Enhancement Funding

A total of 5 percent, or $500,000, of the grant can be used toward enhancements on the new bridge.

Enhancements on the bridge, which were estimated at $1,990,000, include decorative railing and lighting on the east and west girders, pier lighting and lighting on the full length of the bike/pedestrian trail.

A total of $800,000 is already secured for enhancements — $500,000 from Washington, $250,000 from Franklin County and $50,000 from Warren County.

The funding shortfall is $1,190,000.

“This will allow $500,000 to go toward the enhancements,” said Bob Zick, Missouri Highway 47 Bridge Committee chairman. . . .

The city also has applied for a TAP (Transportation Alternative Program) federal grant through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

The grant could contribute as much as $250,000 toward the project, primarily on the bike trail.

The grant would cover some sidewalks leading to the bridge, pedestrian lighting, signage and may incorporate striping. The city is requesting $301,000, or 80 percent of the total cost of $377,000. The city would cover the remaining 20 percent of the cost.

We are very pleased that the Washington Bridge is moving forward.  It is currently the last remaining old, narrow Missouri River bridge among Katy Trail communities--all the other Katy Trail communities that are separated from the trail by the river have at least one bicycle/pedestrian friendly bridge spanning the river--including St. Charles, Hermann, Jefferson City, and Boonville.

As mentioned in the article, MoBikeFed and other community groups wrote letters of support for the TIGER grant; MoBikeFed is very pleased to be able to support the community of Washington's effort to create a safe connection for bicycling and walking across the river.

You can ready one of many letters of support MoBikeFed has written for the project here (PDF).

MoDOT's Hwy 47 Bridge page has many details about the planned new bridge


Creating better, safer bicycle, pedestrian, and trails connections across Missouri is one of the top priorities of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.  Your ongoing membership and generous financial support helps turn our Vision into reality!



Photo credits:

1. Washington Missouri Hwy 47 Bridge, courtesy MoDOT.

2. Washington Bridge photo courtesy Wikipedia; photo by Wikipedia user Americasroof. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.