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May 27, 2013

Replacing Mo. bridge estimated at $3M

CHAFFEE, Mo. — Cleanup of the collapsed southeast Missouri highway overpass continued Sunday, more than 24 hours after a cargo train crash led to a chain reaction.

The crash, which happened about 2:30 a.m. Saturday near Chaffee, led to the derailment of about two dozen rail cars that smashed into the bridge’s support pillars. Seven people in two cars on the Highway M overpass in Scott County were injured, none seriously, when two 40-foot sections of the overpass crumpled. All seven had been released from an area hospital Saturday.

“The damage is very extensive,” Mark Shelton, engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s southeast region, said Sunday. “We’re going to end up removing the entire bridge and completely replacing it.”

Shelton said the overpass replacement is estimated to cost about $3 million, and the bridge is expected to reopen in early September.

The overpass, which was built about 15 years ago, is used by about 400 to 500 cars a day, mostly between Chaffee, Scott City and Cape Girardeau. The National Transportation Safety Board said the bridge was rated “good” after its last inspection in February.

The railroads would likely be paying for the replacement, but the investigation into the cause of the accident was still early, Shelton said.

The collapse occurred after a Union Pacific train hit the side of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train at a rail intersection. Shelton said crews were at the scene Sunday cleaning up debris and removing sections of the bridge.

— AP

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