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Missouri awarded $81M federal grant for Rocheport Bridge

   

INFRA grant triggers $301 million in state bonding for other projects

Missouri has been awarded more than $81 million from the federal government to replace the Rocheport Bridge — which triggers more than $300 million in state bonding to repair or replace hundreds of other bridges. 

On Monday, the congressional delegation in the Show-Me State announced that the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) will receive an $81.2 million Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to replace the I-70 Missouri River Bridge at Rocheport.

The $240 million project will be paid for by a combination of local, state, and federal funds — the exact funding details are still being worked out. MoDOT officials said the grant will enable them to begin the environmental assessment and design for the new bridge, with construction likely to begin in 2021.

The plan is to replace the existing four-lane structure with a six-lane bridge built just to the south of the current location, as well as reconstruct the Route BB interchange east of the bridge. The existing bridge, built in 1960, will continue to be used during construction. 

“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,” Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement. “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.” 

“[It’s] a very exciting and important day for my district and our state. I can’t say enough about the tremendous effort Senator [Roy] Blunt put in to help make this happen. It wouldn’t have been possible without his advocacy and his influence,” Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, a Republican from Columbia, told The Missouri Times. “A big win!” 

The INFRA grant will also trigger $301 million in state bonding. 

“The impact is multiplied with $300 million in state bonding for our roads and bridges,” Republican House Speaker Elijah Haahr told The Missouri Times. “This is a huge win for all Missourians and a bold investment in our state’s future.”

The bonding, approved by the General Assembly this year, will be repaid out of the general revenue over a seven year period. It’s predicted to cost about $46 million per year and includes an additional $50 million allocated from the general revenue to “jump start” the projects. 

About 215 bridges across the state will either be repaired or replaced with the bonding funds. Proponents of the plan noted this will free up the $301 million that was already committed to these bridge projects in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program to enable other high-priority transportation needs across the state. 

“I want to thank Governor Parson for his leadership and commitment to Missouri’s infrastructure needs,” MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said in a statement. “This could not have happened without his determination and unwavering support of infrastructure investment.”

Reactions

House Budget Chair Cody Smith: “I am excited to hear that Missouri will be awarded an INFRA grant. These grant proceeds, combined with bond proceeds authorized by the Missouri Legislature, appropriations, and other funds will enable us to replace the Rocheport bridge on I-70. This is critical to Missouri’s transportation infrastructure and was made possible by cooperation between the Missouri General Assembly, our U.S. congressional counterparts, and Governor Parson.” 

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz: “I’m very grateful for the work Senator Blunt, Representative Graves, and the rest of our Congressional delegation put into making sure this critical project was on the Trump Administration’s radar. The Rocheport bridge carries millions of vehicles and billions of dollars in goods every year—a brand new bridge will serve Missourians for 75-100 years and spare us the crippling 8 hour backups caused by temporarily repairing the existing structure. Not only did we receive more grant funds than we had anticipated, but those funds are also enough to trigger the emergency bridge bonding approved by the legislature this year. This comprehensive project will keep a major artery open and repair or replace hundreds of unsound bridges across Missouri.”

Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO: “This is a big win for Missouri. The transportation funding announced today reflects the urgent need to invest in our state’s infrastructure to ensure our roads and bridges remain safe and open for commerce. This federal announcement also triggers $301 million in additional state funding as part of Gov. Mike Parson’s plan to speed up work on the most deficient bridges across the state. This is a big step forward for safety and commerce in our state as we continue to seek ways to invest in our transportation system for the future.”

Blake Hurst, Missouri Farm Bureau president: “I-70 is critical to shipping Missouri’s agricultural goods to buyers around the world. This vital corridor is badly in need of repair. The new Rocheport bridge will help Missouri continue to thrive as the center of our nation’s transportation network. Missouri’s receipt of this grant will also trigger $301 in state bonding to fix over 200 bridges across the state that are in disrepair.”

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt: “The Rocheport Bridge is a vital component of our nation’s highway system, carrying millions of people and billions of dollars in freight every year. Replacing the bridge will create a safer, more reliable transportation route for businesses, travelers and local residents. This has been one of the top infrastructure priorities for our state and I appreciate Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s support for getting it done. Location is our greatest competitive advantage in Missouri, and I’ll continue advocating for the federal resources necessary to improve our state’s transportation system and keep our economy growing.”

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley: “Replacing the Rocheport Bridge is a huge victory for our state. This critical infrastructure investment will benefit Missouri residents and businesses by providing safe and reliable passage for the more-than 12 million vehicles that travel across the bridge each year. I am grateful to the administration for prioritizing the critical infrastructure needs of Missouri, and I applaud the Missouri Department of Transportation for their efforts to secure these funds.”

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves: “Replacing the Rocheport bridge is critical to maintaining one of the busiest transportation corridors in Missouri and the country. As Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I’m pleased to see the INFRA grant program used for this critical project. This grant will not only help replace this aging structure, it will also free up much-needed dollars to maintain our roads and bridges around the state – including 76 aging bridges in North Missouri. I applaud Secretary Chao and President Trump for their continued focus on fixing our crumbling infrastructure and congratulate MODOT on working diligently to find a way to replace this bridge.”