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County plans Saturday ceremonial reopening of Devil's Elbow Bridge on Route 66

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (June 2, 2014) — County Commissioners have scheduled a ceremonial reopening at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday for the historic Devil’s Elbow Bridge on Route 66, which after a major refurbishing project opened earlier than expected and stayed on budget.

Area resident Bill Debo suggested to the commissioners that classic cars from the 1920s and 1930s be the first vehicles across the Devil's Elbow Bridge after the ceremonial reopening.

Debo said so many people have been visiting the bridge, one of the last pony truss bridges on Route 66, that it could become a safety hazard.

“You guys need to put signs up saying, ‘Watch for tourists on bridge,’” Debo said.

“We need to all dress up like gangsters in 1930s clothes,” said Eastern District Commissioner Lynn Sharp.

County Clerk Brent Bassett suggested getting gangster-era Tommy guns in addition to historic 1930s era cars and clothes.

While the Devil’s Elbow bridge project was done almost entirely with grant funding, other roads are in bad shape as well. Debo suggested that the county commissioners work with Missouri Department of Transportation personnel to deal with road humps on Highway 133 near Richland.

Bassett and Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink agreed, saying he'd like to see the work done and said the county may be willing to donate land to help.

"We've been fighting here so long and they finally done U (Highway)... that's the meanest road in the county with all the traffic from the lake,” Zweerink said.

“We need to get those humps out, and also the humps by Dixon," Bassett said, later clarifying that he meant humps on Highway C by Dixon.

Many of the county’s road repair projects are waiting on approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for repair related to the August 2013 flood, and Zweerink said he’s frustruated.

Zweerink said he's "just about fought all the wars he's going to fight with them" after learning that the worst road they had, Smokey Road, has been dropped from the FEMA list, though it's now been put back in with a larger funding amount. Also, FEMA has only allowed $31.72 cents for repair of one box culvert, he said.

“I could call that cat and ask him what they're doing, I don't know,” Zweerink said.

“The hard part is they can pay as much as they want, do whatever they want, and we can't do anything about it, we just have to live with it,” said Presiding Commissioner Gene Newkirk.

"We can't speed them up,” Sharp said.

Newkirk said the last time he contacted elected officials to “put heat on” FEMA officials, FEMA personnel "got mad and slowed down."

Completing and reviewing paperwork has also been an issue.

"You're talking about thousands and thousands of pages in those boxes.... if you can tell me how to hurry them up, I'd sure be willing to listen,” Zweerink said.

“They're on their own speed and there's nothing we can do,” Sharp said.

“At least I got them back to town; they disappeared for a month and a half,” Newkirk said.

“All I can say is I don't know what else can be done.... whatever we get is what we get,” Zweerink said, noting that work is under way on the area of Red Oak and Red Wing roads with an estimated project cost of $250,000.

Bridge work could be much longer, however.

“It could be a long time before we get started on it,” Zweerink said.

In other business, the commissioners approved a bid from the Adkins corporation from Clinton for about $20,000 worth of election equipment. The price is honoring an earlier bid by the company which Bassett said was too good to pass up, though the county hadn't planned to make the purchase at this time.

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