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Opinion: Proposed bonding plan is first step to funding solution for state’s roads and bridges

  

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how improving Missouri’s infrastructure is my top priority this legislative session. All across our state, our roads and bridges are crumbling, and we must find both long and short-term solutions to fix this problem. Infrastructure improvement is vital to our state’s success because it affects our economy and how goods are moved across our state. It also affects our vehicles; bad roads often lead to costly vehicle repairs, which impact every Missouri family.

Earlier this year, the governor announced his $351 million bonding plan to repair or replace over 250 bridges on the State Transportation Improvement Plan. I believe this is the correct way to address our transportation issues because it will make our state competitive for federal transportation dollars. In addition, these funds will be specifically allocated for transportation projects and not subject to appropriation by the General Assembly. There is no way that MODOT can plan for future projects if they don’t know what money is going to be allocated to them.

Since the Senate is considered the “deliberative” body of the Missouri General Assembly, there was thorough debate on a proposal intended to address our state’s transportation funding needs. After 10 hours of debate on Tuesday, we finally agreed on a compromise for Senate Concurrent Resolution 14. Our compromise lowers the bond amount to $301 million, to be paid over seven years. It also reduces the number of bridges included in the proposal from 250 to 215, with the remaining 35 bridges being paid for through a one-time $50 million appropriation.

Finally, our compromise includes language that delays the effective date of SCR 14 until MODOT accepts a federal grant for the replacement of the Interstate 70 bridge at Rocheport. This bridge is an example of a vital piece of our transportation infrastructure that needs to be replaced. The cost of replacing this bridge is $238 million, and if we neglect this project, there will be six-to-eight-hour traffic delays on Interstate 70.

I will continue to lead the fight to improve infrastructure in our state. This proposed bonding proposal is just the first step to finding a funding solution for our state’s roads and bridges.