Repairing Missouri’s deteriorating bridges
It’s no secret that bridge infrastructure is an increasingly critical need in our state. MoDOT has identified more than 900 bridges in poor condition that Missouri’s families and businesses alike rely on. So when Gov. Parson announced his proposal to fund repairs for 250 of Missouri’s bridges, Sen. Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) took the lead by sponsoring Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 14.
SCR 14 allows the state to issue up to $351 million in bonds for bridge repairs. This funding will enable MoDOT to perform maintenance work on 250 bridges that are already slated for repair in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). It will also free up that same amount of money already in the road fund to go toward more transportation projects statewide.
At a Senate committee hearing on Feb. 5, Sen Schatz said the proposal’s low interest rate makes it a great deal for our state. And while the bonds are projected to be paid off within 15 years, he said, the repairs would extend the lifespan of many bridges to 50-75 years.
“With the delay of maintenance, the cost will continue to go up,” Schatz said. “We cannot allow our system to deteriorate to the point where we can never catch up.”
MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna expressed his support for the measure, saying it would help free up resources to accelerate the department’s list of projects as well as help them acquire more federal matching funds.
“By having these rural bridges in this plan, in this format, it actually fits very well with the next generation of INFRA grants — discretionary grant program availability at the national level — and we believe we will be able to use all the bridges here that are designated as rural as part of the state match to free up resources,” McKenna said.
Matt Panik, the Missouri Chamber’s vice president of governmental affairs, also testified in support of the resolution.
“Eighty-five percent of Missourians identified a need for more money to go into the transportation system,” said Panik, citing polling data from 2018. “We need to look at any way possible to get MoDOT the funding it needs to provide safe roads for Missouri drivers and businesses, and this is one way that we can do that, so we support the measure.”