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Ozarks' Bridge Receives International, Prestigious Award

Riverside Bridge
Save Riverside Bridge Initiative founder and director, Kris Dyer, stands proudly on the Riverside Bridge/Credit: Kris Dyer

The Riverside Bridge in Ozark, Missouri recently won an award for its preservation.  As KSMU’s Julie Greene reports, the bridge is 105 years old, and it’s still used by traffic.

The Ammann Best Bridge Preservation Award, presented by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, is awarded for efforts to successfully restore and preserve a historic bridge to be used for future plans. Kris Dyer, founder and director of the Save Riverside Bridge Initiative, says the landmark is important in local and American history.

“There [aren’t] very many of these truss bridges left in America because usually they’re just let go, and they need to be maintained periodically so they don’t get into a state of where they start talking about replacing them. It’s actually a rarity to have this bridge still with us,” Dyer said.

Dyer began the fight to save the bridge after plans were announced to either tear down or replace what was thought to be an unsafe structure. She registered the bridge with the National Historic Register, and that bought the initiative more time to get the county to think of ways to save the bridge. 

The Ozark Special Road District repaired the bridge, and the City of Ozark also pitched in with funding. 

 In the fall of 2010, the bridge was shut down to vehicle traffic. But it opened again last August.

“It’s important that every one of these bridges that are left, people are trying to save them and do something about it. I’m just a normal, everyday citizen and I just took a stand, and I hope that helps to see that if I can do it, they can do it, because these bridges are becoming very rare now,” Dyer said.

The Riverside Bridge in Ozark, built in 1909 by the Canton Bridge Company, beat out 10 other finalists to win the international award.

“All of the preservationists that saved their bridges deserve this award as much as I do or anybody else in the Save the Riverside Bridge Initiative, so I am highly honored that our initiative was chosen,” Dyer said.

The Ammann Best Bridge Preservation Practice Award is named after Othmar H. Ammann, a world-renounced Swiss-American bridge engineer who designed the George Washington Bridge, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Bayonne Bridge.

For KSMU News, I’m Julie Greene.