An ambitious plan by the Missouri Department of Transportation to repair or replace 800 of the state’s worst bridges appears in jeopardy.
The State Transportation Commission has chosen Missouri Bridge Partners as the apparent "best-value" bidder and has agreed to continue negotiations with the company. State Transportation Director Pete Rahn says substantial issues remain to be resolved; obstacles such as how the project will be financed as well as who assumes risk and responsibly. Details of the negotiations are confidential.
Rahn concedes, "There’s no guarantee that these negotiations will culminate in a contract."
The program approved in a special legislative session this year seeks to fix the state’s worst bridges within five years and give maintenance responsibilities to the contractor. MoDOT proposes to pay for the contract by leveraging its federal bridge replacement funds. Under the plan, the bridges would be fixed during the first five years. The contractor then would assume the responsibility to maintain the bridges for the next 25 years.
Rahn says he hopes to wrap up negotiations by the middle of January. Rahn says he is optimistic, but not wholly optimistic the negotiations will be successful.