A west-central Missouri congresswoman is praising an $81 million federal grant to replace the aging I-70 Rocheport bridge, saying it’s a prime example of communities and tax dollars working together to address a critical need.
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, whose district includes Rocheport, says the bridge is vital for motorists, truckers and farmers.
“This bridge is a corridor that connects the east and the west coasts of this country and certainly it connects St. Louis and Kansas City, population five million,” Hartzler says.
Hartzler tells Missourinet she met personally with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao about the project’s importance.
The Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest general farm organization, says the federal grant is critical, saying the I-70 corridor is “badly in need of repair.” Hartzler, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, tells Missourinet more than 12 million vehicles cross the bridge annually, including three million trucks.
“And that equals to about 100 million tons of freight, which equals more than $154 billion annually so many trucks,” says Hartzler.
Rocheport is just west of Columbia. Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst says I-70 is critical to shipping Missouri’s agricultural goods to buyers across the world.
The current bridge is 59 years old, and the state Department of Transportation (MoDOT) says it’s in poor condition.
As for Congresswoman Hartzler, she emphasizes that the successful effort to land the grant was a bipartisan effort. Hartzler says U.S. Reps. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, and Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, signed her letter backing the project.
“We stood up together as a Missouri (congressional) delegation and said this is important not only just for the fourth district but for the entire state of Missouri,” Hartzler says.
The grant will allow the existing bridge to be used during construction of the new six-lane bridge, avoiding projected three to eight-hour backups under a bridge rehabilitation.
While MoDOT will have to provide additional funding for the project, Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, tells Missourinet the state “will come up with the funds.”
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, which was recorded on July 22, 2019:
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