By Alex Fees
St. Louis (KSDK) - Missouri Department of Transportation officials say construction on the new bridge over the Mississippi River is being delayed by low water conditions.
MoDOT Project Manager Greg Horn said construction is being hampered a bit by the draught.
"One of the problems is they plan to float the barges in," said Horn, "especially between the Illinois bank and the Illinois pier to build the truss sections on the barge and lift them in place."
But Horn said crews can't do that, because they can't get in on the Illinois side. Horn said crews are now working on the bridge deck and cables.
"And typically what they do," he said, "is build those on the barges and float them underneath where they need to go. And then lift them in place and bolt them up. What's happening since they can't do that is they have to build those in the air piece-by-piece. And that takes a little longer than they had planned."
Horn said overall the project is still in good shape, and scheduled to be completed on time, in early 2014. Horn said contractors made accommodations for what would happen if the river were in flood stage.
Little did they know they would be dealing with low water levels.
"They have these big cranes on these barges, and they sit pretty low in the water," he said. "And so when the water is too low they can't get those barges with the big cranes in there. And these big cranes on these ringers, it's not easy to take those off the barges and move them onto land. That takes a lot of operation; that takes a day or two to do all that."
Horn said the bridge span in between the two piers is 1,500 feet, making it the third longest cable-stayed bridge in the United States.