It’s no secret that we have an infrastructure problem in Missouri and there’s no place we’ve seen this failure more clearly than on our roadways. Particularly concerning is the state of our bridges with 900 bridges being rated “poor” by the Federal Highway Administration. Given that 60 percent of our bridges are currently beyond their originally intended lifespan and the average Missouri bridge is 48 years old, the maintenance, repair, and replacement problem is only going to get worse the longer we wait.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like this, and I’m proud to report that we’ve made some big progress the last few years in fixing Missouri’s bridge problem. As the Republican Leader of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I’ve been honored to work alongside Governor Mike Parson and other state leaders to help rebuild our infrastructure.
Those efforts have paid big dividends for Missouri families. Together, we were able to finally get the ball rolling on replacing the Buck O’Neil Bridge which connects Kansas City’s Northland to downtown. This week, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission announced the Design-Build team that will begin work on the project. I was proud to help this project secure $25 million in federal funding and I’m excited to see it finally get started.
Securing federal investment in the Rocheport Bridge, which carries I-70, one of our nation’s most critical freight corridors, across the Missouri River, was also a major step forward for transportation in our state, freeing up additional money for not only the Buck O’Neil bridge replacement but also unlocking state funding to replace hundreds of smaller bridges all over Missouri.
Through Governor Parson’s “Focus on Bridges” program, our state is working to repair or replace 250 bridges that are in poor condition. Work has already been completed on 99 of those bridges, with many more under contract for design-build. In addition, the FARM Bridge program will start work soon on replacing dozens of weight and lane restricted bridges that are critical to rural communities across North Missouri.
Make no mistake, we’ve got a long way to go to fully fix our aging infrastructure, but it’s a big step in the right direction—something we haven’t seen for quite some time in Missouri. I’ve proud of all we’ve accomplished so far, but more excited about the promise that the future holds. Together, we can and will fix our infrastructure problems.