Friday, June 24, 2011

Highway 76 Bridge repair in 2013!

If any of the rumors I’ve heard are true, the bridge that crosses Bull Shoals just east of Forsyth Missouri will be shut down sometime in 2013 for the better part of a year. This is needed to be done as major repairs are needed to this structure that goes back to 1953.

The problem this will cause is obvious. The highway is a major artery for much of the commuter traffic that runs between cities like Forsyth, Taneyville and Cedar Creek to and from the Branson area. Likewise, many area businesses would be severely affected by any disruption in existing traffic patterns.

So, a solution must be found that would cause the least amount of disruption, not only to existing traffic patterns, but also to state budgets. One idea I had would be for a group like the Army to come in an erect a pontoon bridge adjacent to the existing one. A bridge wide enough to handle two-way traffic would be expensive, but if built in sections, could be used at other locations to satisfy future needs.

Almost two months later and the flood remains!

This side-by side-comparison of water levels in Shadow Rock Park taken May 9th and June the 25th show why I’m concerned about the future use of the park areas that are so much a part of life here where I live in southwest Missouri. It’s a number of months since we experienced those spring rains that originally caused the problem, but now I’m beginning to wonder if the lake levels will ever get back to ‘normal’. I’ve lived in this area for over twenty years and cannot remember this stretch of Bull Shoals flooding as often as it has recently. I also don’t remember the water level staying so high for so long!

So, where’s the figurative plug in the drain? That would be the Bull Shoals Dam across the Missouri border in Arkansas. Problem is, if the officials were to release the backlog too quickly, they would potentially re-flood a good portion of the state as the White River meanders its way southward. (A casual inspection of the White river, using a site like Google Maps, shows that it runs a very convoluted course with many small towns located along the way). Small riverside towns like Batesville flooded along with many others when the heavy rains fell back in May. So, that’s part of the problem. Any large release up stream right now would just re-flood areas in Arkansas.

Adding to the woes of the Corps of Engineers, recent and continuing heavy rains in the northern Midwest states have added historic amounts of flood water to the Mississippi which is only now beginning to recede back to more normal levels. After nearly two months above flood stage, the waters are now at 47.95 feet early Wednesday, June 22, bringing along with it a shared sigh of relief from many. The question on everyone’s mind now is what the fall rains will bring.

As of this writing, the lake level for Bull Shoals stands at 690 feet plus change. (Check the river levels chart comparing the last three years for some insight as to what that means). Hopefully, that level should begin dropping more rapidly, especially if the Midwest remains relatively dry. Maybe we’ll all get a chance to use the park areas later this fall right before winter sets in!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Taney County Fair 2011

Ask anyone who has ever thrown a large venue community event and they will tell you just how much work it is! This year’s Taney County Fair has the added challenge of being resurrected from scratch, courtesy of the flooding that has innervated the traditional site located in Shadow Rock Park.

The sheer amount of work that is involved to bring together the infrastructure required to put on an event of this size is mind boggling to me. Tons of earth has to be moved; fences erected and viewing stands put up. Then, there was the need for lots and lots of electricity to supply power for all the lights and rides. Finally, the rides have to be brought in and erected in time for it all to come together.

Just thinking about all the logistics makes my head hurt. The only thing that could hurt this fair’s success would be a failure of the public to show up! So, show up OK?

I encourage everyone in Taney County to make an effort this year to show your support for the hard work done by so few for the enjoyment of so many.

Additional information can be obtained by visiting the Fair Boards Web Site.

The Taney Fair is just days away!

Scheduled to open on Tuesday, June the 14th, the Taney County Fair for 2011 is located at a brand new venue located off Hwy 76 just past the bridge at Corner Stone Drive (see maps). The new location was needed due to the flooded condition of Shadow Rock Park. A location, I understand, that will no longer be used by the county for future fair events.

I was very impressed with the amount of progress that the mostly volunteer group of men and women has made in such short time. The rodeo arena area looks to be almost complete and should work out quite well. It looks to me that all that’s needed now are the rides, vendors and people, of course!

I plan to attend the Fair on at least a few of the days. Each of the five nights is packed with some great events. Must sees for me will be the tractor pull events on Thursday the 17th and the Demolition Derby on Friday the 18th. Information concerning events to be held can be found at the Taney County Fair site.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Major bridge closing in 2013?

Here’s a bit of traffic I came across on the internet concerning the large bridge that crosses Bull Shoals and which connects the communities like Forsyth, Taneyville and Cedar Creek to Branson Missouri:

MoDOT and local officials in Taney County are discussing how to reroute traffic during a bridge construction project planned for 2013. The Highway 76 bridge in Forsyth was built in 1953 and is in need of major repairs. MoDOT spokesman Bob Edwards says the plan is to remove and replace the superstructure, or everything above the columns, and that would mean closing the bridge while the work is done”

The bridge they are referring to is a major and critical artery which allows thousands of commuters access from their homes to Branson each day. Closing it will mean that some travelers will have to extend their commute time to work by as much as an hour. This planned at a time when gas prices are very uncertain. Leaving it open is also not an option as the structure built in 1953 is in need of major repairs.

It’s my understanding that alternative routes are now being considered. I would love to know what ideas are being discussed. Whatever happens, count on delays increased commute times for some.