A worker welds clips today on the bridge outside the East Gate that will fasten the deck pans – the sheet metal that will act as a form for the concrete to be poured for the deck, or surface of the bridge – to the beams and extend the bridge deck to its completed width of 24 feet. Construction on the bridge is now expected to be complete by late January.
A worker welds clips today on the bridge outside the East Gate that will fasten the deck pans – the sheet metal that will act as a form for the concrete to be poured for the deck, or surface of the bridge – to the beams and extend the bridge deck to its completed width of 24 feet. Construction on the bridge is now expected to be complete by late January. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Hill, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Officials with Fort Leonard Wood’s Directorate of Public Works said today the improvements being made to the bridge that connects J Highway to the installation just outside the East Gate is scheduled for a late January completion.

The East Gate remains closed while the work continues.

According to J.D. Bales, chief of the DPW Engineering Design Branch, work is currently being done to complete construction of the bridge superstructure, with placement of the deck — essentially, the surface of the bridge — set to begin in early December.

Workers were initially tasked back in 2021, to mill and resurface the asphalt deck while also sealing the underlying concrete on the 420-foot-long bridge, but the scope of the project changed when officials noticed the amount of deteriorating concrete underneath, Bales said.

“We knew there was water penetrating both the asphalt and the concrete due to spalling on the underside of the concrete deck,” Bales said.

Spalling is a term used to describe when concrete breaks into smaller pieces. In the case of the 80-year-old East Gate Bridge, which crosses over the Big Piney River, water had — over time — damaged the structure.

Bales said the plan then had to be altered to include removing the deteriorating concrete and replacing it. The method of repairs that have been selected for the bridge should be able to be maintained with very little impact on traffic in the future, he added.

“In the end, we will have a full-depth concrete deck instead of a deck with an asphalt finish,” he said. “The upgrades being done to the concrete will ensure one of the bridges people rely on every day to access the installation is safe. While it’s temporarily inconvenient for some of our commuters who have to travel to one of the other installation access points, the safety of every member of the Fort Leonard Wood community is always our most important concern.”