Missouri Gov. Parson’s ‘Focus on Bridges’ barnstorming tour makes stops in Jefferson and Franklin counties

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GOV. MIKE PARSON talks with an official from the Missouri Department of Transportation on Feb. 14, 2019. Parson stopped in Jefferson County to promote a bonding plan to repair bridges. – Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio photo

Jefferson/Franklin counties – Missouri Governor Mike Parson visited on Feb. 14 the bridges on Highway 30/Gravois Road at Saline Creek in Fenton and a bridge at Rte. AD at Happy Sac Creek in Franklin County, two of the 250 bridges scheduled for immediate repair or replacement if his administration’s “Focus on Bridges” funding program is passed by the Missouri General Assembly this year. The Governor first outlined the statewide bridge infrastructure program in the State of the State address on Jan. 16.

Missouri has 922 bridges in poor condition throughout the state. The Governor’s proposal would accelerate the repair or replacement of 250 of those bridges, in turn freeing up funding for additional transportation projects across the entire state.

“Missouri has one of the nation’s largest highway systems with one of the lowest levels of funding in the country – it is now time to fix Missouri’s infrastructure needs,” Parson said. “Our plan to address Missouri’s critical infrastructure needs, funded through budget savings, will accelerate more than $1 billion worth of local projects with no new tax dollars.”

Governor Parson’s proposal would enable the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Office of Administration to enter a financing agreement to fund 250 bridge projects – bridges that are already programmed for repair or replacement in the state’s current five-year construction program.

‘WE HAVE AN INFRASTRUCTURE PROBLEM’

Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna told St. Louis Public Radio, “We have an infrastructure problem in the state of Missouri — and, more specifically, we have a bridge problem. The leadership the governor has expressed here in coming forward with an innovative solution that has multiple benefits. Imagine 250 bridges advanced in construction all over the state, providing the opportunity to reallocate another $350 million beyond that.”

Parson’s proposal would supplement existing transportation revenue with general revenue to pay off the debt. The resolution also calls for the bond proceeds to be deposited into the State Road Fund – meaning the funds will be constitutionally protected and regularly audited to ensure they are only used for state road and bridge projects.

ACCELERATING BRIDGE PROJECTS, CREATING JOBS

Parson says accelerating 250 bridge projects and freeing additional funding for statewide transportation projects will create jobs throughout the state and boost the state’s economy.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) has proposed a Senate concurrent resolution to establish the program. The resolution recently passed out of committee with no opposition.

“Taking seriously the needs of Missouri roads and bridges is vital to the success of our local communities through attracting businesses and ensuring the safety of Missourians,” Schatz said. “The Governor’s plan is an important step to address our state’s critical infrastructure needs, and I’m proud to sponsor his bold proposal.”

Missouri has 10,385 bridges on the state highway system – sixth most in the nation. Of that total, 922 are in poor condition, and 1,194 are weight restricted (450 fall into both categories).

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