The state has been awarded an $81 million federal grant to replace the heavily-traveled I-70 Missouri River bridge at Rocheport in the central part of the state. The Missouri Transportation Department had originally planned to repair – not replace – the poor-conditioned bridge in 2020. If the rehab would have followed through, drivers would have been faced with three to eight-hour traffic backups near the bridge for nearly one year. MoDOT says more than 12 million vehicles travel across the bridge annually. Today’s announcement allows construction of a new bridge near the existing one without causing major traffic disruptions.

Missouri River bridge at Rocheport (Photo courtesy of MoDOT)

In a press release today from Gov. Mike Parson, he says the grant will enable a $240 million project to replace the existing four-lane I-70 bridge with a six-lane structure built just to the south of the current location. He says the funding will also bankroll the reconstruction of the Route BB interchange just east of the bridge, which was built in 1960. Additionally, the grant will construct climbing lanes on I-70 at Mineola Hill in Montgomery County, which will improve safety and traffic flow through the Loutre River valley.

“Since becoming governor, improving Missouri’s infrastructure has been a major focus for our administration. The Rocheport bridge has long been in need of repair, and we’re thrilled that we now have the funds to complete this critical project and trigger our bold transportation plan,” says Parson. “Transportation drives our economy, and replacing the bridge is a major step toward maintaining our highway system and ensuring we have the framework for access and expansion in the future. We appreciate Senator Blunt, Secretary Chao, and President Trump’s continued support and commitment to infrastructure in Missouri.”

Receipt of the grant will also trigger $301 million in state bonding, authorized by the Missouri General Assembly during the 2019 session, that will repair or replace another 215 bridges across the state. The bonds will be repaid out of state general revenue over a seven-year period. It will also free up $301 million that was already committed to these bridge projects in the current Statewide Transportation Improvement Program to enable other high-priority transportation needs across the state. Projects will be identified in cooperation with local planning partners.

According to MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna, the City of Columbia, the City of Boonville, and Boone and Cooper counties are providing $4.2 million in local funds to make the new bridge a reality.

The release says the grant will enable MoDOT to begin the environmental assessment and design for the new bridge, with construction likely to begin sometime in 2021.

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