Today Missouri Governor Mike Parson celebrated the completion of his Focus on Bridges program.
Parson was present at a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning in Jackson County where the last bridge of the program was finished. The Blue Ridge Boulevard bridge in Independence will reopen on December 22, just four years and two days after the first bridge was finished on December 19, 2019 in Iron County.
Parson established the program in 2019. The program’s goal was to repair or replace 250 of Missouri’s bridges that were in various states of disrepair. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), “Missouri has 10,424 bridges – the sixth most in the nation. More than 800 of those bridges are in disrepair”.
“Infrastructure has been a top priority since day one, and four years ago, we set out to replace 250 of our poorest bridges through the Focus on Bridges program,” Governor Parson said. “Today, we are proud to celebrate the 250th bridge completed as promised. From St. Louis to Springfield, from the Bootheel to the great Northwest, this program benefited Missourians everywhere. Focus on Bridges is a bold, one-of-a-kind program that leveraged general revenue to make far reaching improvements to our infrastructure for the first time in generations. While there is more to do, we know we have made a real difference and created a lasting model that will continue to serve Missourians now and into the future.”
In 2019, the Missouri General Assembly approved a $50 million appropriation from General Revenue as well as $301 million in bond revenue towards the Bridges program.
“The completion of the Focus on Bridges program is an example of the progress being made to Missouri’s bridges and Governor Parson’s commitment to moving Missouri forward,” MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said. “I applaud the governor for his leadership and commitment to improving Missouri’s bridges and roadways. We will continue to work towards reducing the number of poor bridges in Missouri as additional federal and state revenue becomes available.”
Parson has made infrastructure a priority for his administration. He has petitioned for investments in a variety of infrastructure projects, many of which will continue after his term. During his 2023 State of the State Address, Parson called for investment to improve Interstate 70.
The General Assembly approved $2.8 billion in the 2024 budget for the project, which officially starts sometime next summer. The project will expand I-70 to six lanes across the entire state.
Chair of the Senate Approitations Comittee Lincoln Hough commented on the projects completion.
“I want to commend Governor Parson for his leadership and MoDOT Director McKenna, his staff and the Highway Commission on a job well done. The re-tooling of the highway department gives me confidence as they move forward on projects on I-70, I-44 and low volume roads. These are major investments that continue to deliver improved safety for our families and ways to move Missouri products to market,” Hough said.