The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission (MHTC) has approved $100 million in additional funds for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to use in bridge and road repair efforts, according to a report by ABC 17 News.
With matching federal funds, the total actually rises to roughly $200 million, which will be divided approximately in half to road programs and half to work for bridge repairs.
MoDOT recently reported the bridges in its state that were in “critical need of attention” had increased by 50 from 2014 to 641. MoDOT says critical condition bridges have continued deterioration and are in a state in which they are close to being closed.
“When we completed the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program in 2012, we stemmed the tide for a while,” State Bridge Engineer Dennis Heckman said in a statement. “But we knew that the curve would start going up again. Safe & Sound made a dent, however it did not repair or replace all of the state’s bad bridges. Now with a shrinking construction budget, the number of bad bridges is on the rise again.”
The Safe & Sound program replaced 800 bridges over a four-year span, but Heckman said each year 50 to 100 bridges are reclassified as being in critical condition. With this new funding, Heckman says between 30 and 40 bridges can be repaired.
“To get ahead of the game, we should be replacing more than 100 bridges per year,” Heckman said. “Instead, our funding levels are only allowing us to replace about 30. In 10 years, we’ll have about 1,500 bridges on the critical condition list.”
“We’re going to take some of that revenue and see that we spread it among some of these bridges,” the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Chairman said in the report. “But we will not even come close to addressing the problem. All we’re doing is slowing the decay. So we shouldn’t think that we’re fixing this system at all. What people need to understand is it’s going to continue to get worse, we’re going to have more and more backlog and the hole gets deeper and deeper and deeper every year.”
MoDOT reports that approximately 1,400 bridges in the state have posted weight limits and many of those are in critical condition.