State transportation officials say construction of the $240 million project to replace the aging I-70 bridge in mid-Missouri’s Rocheport will begin late this year.
Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) deputy project director Derek Lepper and other officials answered about 90 minutes of questions from residents, during a virtual open house Tuesday evening. The current bridge will be used, while the new one is built.
“Well our plan is to try and keep two lanes open in each direction (on current bridge) for the majority of the project and just utilize like single lane closures during non-peak hours to try and alleviate any congestion that we can,” Lepper says.
The new bridge is expected to be completed by December 2024. MoDOT describes the current bridge as “the lynchpin of America,” carrying more than 12 million vehicles annually. That includes 3.6 million trucks.
The current bridge, which was built in 1960, is listed in poor condition by MoDOT. The agency says the bridge connects a majority of the nation. Within 48 hours, trucks carrying goods to all 48 lower states will have crossed the Rocheport bridge, according to MoDOT.
The agency is also thanking leaders in several mid-Missouri communities for contributing to the massive Rocheport project. MoDOT Rocheport bridge project director Brandi Baldwin says local support is key.
“$4.2 million has been provided by Boone County, Cooper County, Boonville and Columbia making up those local monies,” says Baldwin. “And we would like to thank them today for helping us make this project a reality.”
Baldwin also announced during the virtual town hall that the current bridge will be demolished, once the new bridge opens.
She also says the new bridge will be required to carry six lanes of traffic, to accommodate future I-70 growth. She also says the project will bring an influx of construction workers to Rocheport, which is 16 miles west of Columbia.
Missouri has received an $81 million federal grant to replace the bridge. The federal grant was also tied-in to a related project to build 1.2 miles of truck climbing lanes on I-70 at east-central Missouri’s Mineola Hill. The Mineola Hill project, which is happening in Montgomery County, continues to progress. There are cranes on-site, along with equipment.
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