The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) director hopes to see the I-70 bridge in mid-Missouri’s Rocheport replaced using bonding. MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna discussed the bridge during a Tuesday meeting with mid-Missouri planning partners in Jefferson City.

Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna addresses mid-Missouri planning partners at Jefferson City’s McClung Park on October 9, 2018 (Brian Hauswirth photo)

The 58-year-old bridge crosses the Missouri River. McKenna says it’s currently scheduled to get a fourth rehabilitation in about 2020, which he says would close a lane in each direction and would cause three-hour backups to Columbia “on a good day” and eight-hour backups on other days.

“The notion that any plan that comes into, you know, in each and every week over a nine-month period a three to eight-hour delay, that’s going to be unacceptable,” McKenna says. “And honestly would cost the public more in that traffic delay than funding the bridge itself.”

McKenna tells Missourinet that the bridge, which was built in 1960, should be replaced.

“We’ll want to use the existing facility for its useful life and put something beside it so that we can not have those traffic impacts,” says McKenna.

But McKenna notes replacing the bridge would cost about $200 million, and MoDOT would probably have to use bonding money to do the project.

He says a planned $15 million rehabilitation would cause eight-hour backups to Kingdom City at times. Kingdom City is located in Callaway County, east of Rocheport.

McKenna says the agency continually monitors and assesses the condition of the I-70 bridge in Rocheport. He tells reporters MoDOT takes the structure’s safety seriously and gives details about a repair made 18 months ago.

“We had our local company DeLong’s (based in Jefferson City) fabricated, after hours, came in and fabricated two 14-foot long finger joints and our crews installed them at night during a hail storm,” McKenna says.

Missouri’s 21st century transportation system task force submitted an 87-page report to the Legislature in January, and recommended replacement of the Rocheport bridge. The task force also recommended a ten-cent gasoline tax increase. Missourians will cast ballots in November on Proposition D, which would phase in a ten-cent gasoline tax increase over four years, at 2.5 cents annually.

McKenna tells reporters Proposition D is crucial for Missouri, adding that MoDOT has about $8 billion in unfunded needs.

Missouri’s gasoline tax hasn’t been increased since 1996.

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