The Department of Transportation is nearing the halfway mark of its project to repair or replace 802 of the worst bridges in Missouri.

“The program is due to be completed at the end of 2013, but right now we’re ahead of that pace and hopefully can maintain that pace and finish it even earlier than that,” said Bob Brendal with MODOT.

“We wrap up 2010 with 330 bridges either replaced or rehabilitated, so we’re almost halfway there. There’s well over 300 scheduled for next year; so probably as many as have been done in the last 22 months will be done in the next 10,” Brendal said.

Brendal says the project is being paid for by federal bridge replacement funds; and that tight budgets won’t impact the completion of the project.

“MODOT needed to find a way to reduce its inventory of low-rated bridges, and this program is a result of that desire,” Brendal said.

Brendal says all the bridges made it on the list because of their condition. But right now, they’re mostly being completed in the way that’s the most cost-efficient.

“These are not complicated bridges to build. The average bridge on the Safe & Sound program is about 150 ft. long and 24 ft. wide. So they’re not big, big structures. But the challenge is moving men and materials around the state in an efficient manner,” Brendal said.

MODOT says right now there’s work on a Missouri bridge being completed every two and a half days. Brendal expects that to become even more frequent in the coming months.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]