A Livingston County bridge is one of 250 across the state slated for accelerated repair under the new "Focus on Bridges" program.
On Monday afternoon, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe visited Chillicothe to discuss the new “Focus on Bridges” plan proposed by Gov. Mike Parson to help strengthen the states infrastructure, specifically bridges.
Standing near the Highway 65 Bridge across the Grand River, Kehoe dropped a brick he found that had fallen off of the structure. “This is something that has to stop,” he said.
Missouri has 922 bridges in poor condition throughout the state, and 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. The governor outlined the plan during his first State of the State address in January.
“The governor’s plan will help address critical infrastructure needs and will accelerate more than $1 billion worth of local projects with no new tax dollars,” Lt. Gov. Kehoe said.
The plan and ultimately the funding for “Focus on Bridges,” must first be approved by the General Assembly.
The 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 scheduled for repair or replacement in the state’s current five-year construction program. The proposal is set up to 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.
Lt. Gov. Kehoe said repairing failing bridges not only strengthens the state's infrastructure it ensures the safety of everyone who travels the roads and bridge across our state, and will serve as an economic development tool.
“First and foremost repairing these bridges will ensure the safety of families,” he said. “And will help support small and large businesses in our state.”
More than 3,800 vehicles travel over the Highway 65 bridge daily, said Ed Douglas, presiding commissioner of Livingston County. “This bridge is a vital corridor not just for our local communities and region, but really the whole state,” Douglas said.
Missouri has 10,385 bridges on the state highway system – sixth most in the nation. Of that total, 922 are in poor condition, 1,194 are weight restricted, and 450 fall into both categories.
The Livingston County Bridge at the Grand River was built in 1965 and was already on the list of bridges to be repaired. Community leaders from across the state chose the 250 bridges to be repaired under the “Focus on Bridges” proposal, and this bridge was one of them. In the northwest region of the state 48 bridges were chosen for repairs under the program.
Once work on the bridge begins crews will replace the decking and do other structural work. Kehoe said the initial plans call for repairing one lane of the bridge at a time, as to allow traffic to still pass over it.