Missourians driving down the road might not see bridge work in the coming years. The Missouri Department of Transportation says it lacks the funding needed to fix bridges in “critical condition.”
Out of the over 10,000 bridges on Missouri’s state system, about 600 of them are what MoDOT considers critical condition. State Bridge Engineer Dennis Heckman said those bridges require constant monitoring to make sure they are safe to keep open.
“What we’re finding is that we’re having to close some of these bridges and we’re afraid that list is going to continue to grow without sufficient funding,” said Heckman.
MoDOT’s Director Dave Nichols warned earlier this year the $325 million slated for its budget would not be enough to maintain broken bridges. Nichols said the department needs at least $485 million to maintain Missouri’s roads and bridges.
Heckman said the list of bridges is growing quickly and they are not funded for any type of replacement or repairs. Heckman estimates the number or critical condition bridges would rise to 1,000 within five years and 1,500 by 2024.
“We have a lot of bridges that are approaching 70, 80, or even 90 years old and we’ve gotten a lot of great life out of them, but when they go, they go really quick,” said Heckman. “We have some 80 year old bridges that when they were 70, they didn’t look too bad, but now 10 years later, they look really rough, and we’ve had to close some of them.”
Heckman said the 600 bridges listed in critical condition are spread throughout the state and bridge closures can cause detours of anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. A map of those bridges can be found on MoDOT’s website.