BOONE COUNTY, Mo. -

Boone County Public Works and the city of Columbia are working on a joint project to fix a heavily traveled and structurally deficient bridge on Rustic Road, just east of Columbia.

Earlier this month, the bridge became off-limits to emergency vehicles and school buses after the weight limit was reduced from 15 tons to three tons.

On Wednesday, crews began creating an alternate route for drivers when the bridge construction starts.

Residents who live along the road and use the bridge daily said they've been concerned about their safety since a 2011 inspection report revealed the bridge has structural problems.

But Wednesday, residents told ABC 17 News the sight of crews beginning the project was a welcomed surprise.

"It has been a long time coming, so it's a start," said John Williams, who lives on Rustic Road.

Boone County Public Works said they expect to begin construction on the bridge in early to mid June, weather permitting. They could not give an official completion date for the project yet. 

Residents told ABC 17 News that since the weight limit was reduced this month, they've had to drive their kids across the bridge and drop them off at the top of the street because the buses can no longer travel safely across.

"It's time consuming, but I understand what they're trying to do for the safety of the kids," Williams said.

Residents along the road said their other frustration with the bridge is the pot holes and they'll be glad when that is no longer an issue.

"The city and county will come and put blacktop or gravel on it, but it doesn't last long," Williams said.

ABC 17 News tried to find out more specific details about the project, including the process of replacing the bridge, but Boone County said that part of the project is not available yet.