Northwest Missouri Congressman Sam Graves, a member of the U.S. House Transportation Committee, says the committee chairman has proposed eliminating a requirement that 15% of the federal money going to the states be used to repair bridges maintained by local governments, so-called “off-system” bridges. It could have a $2.5 million impact on the funding Missouri gets for rural bridge repair and reconstruction. Graves says Missouri counties depend on the program to upgrade rural bridges. He hopes to kill the proposal before it gains steam.
“I would like to get this thing resolved before we bring it up in committee to be marked up,” Graves tells reporters in a conference call.
The Missouri Association of Counties is worried. Carroll County Clerk Peggy McGaugh, who serves as president of MAC, uses her county as an example of what impact such a change would have.
“If this goes through, currently MoDOT states that $515,000 will be cut from the Carroll County allocation,” McGaugh tells the Missourinet. “So, yes there will be closed bridges.”
McGaugh says the proposal has alarmed rural county officials throughout Missouri.
“This has become a top priority since we heard of these possible cutbacks this summer,” McGaugh says.
Missouri has 13,000 bridges. The Missouri Department of Transportation rates 1,700 as functionally obsolete and 2,500 as structurally deficient.
Graves has introduced a resolution calling on the House to go on-record as supporting the program. Graves says it’s not certain that there will even be a new federal transportation bill. He points out that President Obama has requested that Congress approve an 18-month extension to the current highway bill. The chairman of the House committee, though, wants a new bill, according to Graves.