In his State of the State address, Gov. Mike Parson proposed a program to repair or replace 250 of Missouri's poor bridges. On Thursday, Parson visited a Cole County bridge that would be on that list.
Parson, along with state transportation and local government officials, got a look at the Route H bridge over Bois Brule Creek, located approximately 3.5 miles south of Brazito.
According to information from the Missouri Department of Transportation, the bridge was built in 1963 and carries almost 800 vehicles a day. It has a 31-ton weight limit, and any vehicles weighing more than 16 tons are limited to 15 mph. Due to these weight restrictions, the bridge is striped for only one-lane traffic.
Taking the bridge out of service would mean a 20-mile detour for local traffic, MoDOT officials told Parson during Thursday's visit.
"We've got about 550 miles of road in Cole County and 95 bridges," Cole County Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman said. "That figures out to a bridge every 6 miles. Hopefully with the governor's plan, we can get our bridges fixed very quickly."
State Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, said Thursday, "When voters turned down a tax plan to fix roads in November, I don't think they didn't want us not to invest infrastructure. They want us to invest in infrastructure wisely. Investing in a long-term project like this bridge, which would last 50-75 years, I think that's what the people in this state want."
In all, Mid-Missouri has 21 bridges among the 250 bridges targeted in Parson's plan.
Parson's proposed budget — for the 2019-20 state business year that begins July 1 — would issue about $351 million in bonds to pay for the bridge projects, and repay the costs over 15 years, using $30 million each year from general revenue rather than using road funds raised through the state's 17-cents-per-gallon fuels tax.
The plan, if passed by lawmakers, would be the first time general revenue money would be used to pay for road-related projects, which in the past have relied on the fuels tax.
"While funded through our budget savings, it will give us the ability to begin immediate work on nearly 250 bridges across the state of Missouri — all in need of critical repair or replacement," Parson said during his State of the State address. "By doing so, we will be freeing up nearly $350 million in state and federal resources allowing us to accelerate MoDOT's current list of state infrastructure projects."
On Thursday, Parson said doing the bonding shows he and other lawmakers were listening to the voters after the transportation tax plan failed in November.
"They said, 'You need to find a solution without a tax increase,'" Parson said. "The bonding proposal at least makes an effort, taking the first steps in a long journey, to try and fix infrastructure in this state. This is only a Band-Aid to a major problem, but at least it's a way to make Missouri better."
Parson said Thursday that he felt there had been positive progress in the Legislature to get this plan approved.
"I think it's important to note, if we're not spending a large amount of money like this on projects that will last for the long term, 50-75 years, the reality is that money is spent somewhere else," he said. "I think this spends the taxpayers money wisely."
MoDOT officials said all of the bridges in the bonding plan already have been approved as part of the STIP, the Transportation Department's "Statewide Transportation Improvement Program," which covers five years of projects at a time.
Osage County would benefit the most among the Mid-Missouri counties, with six bridges on the list.
Boone County has three projects, while Cole, Callaway and Camden counties each have two bridges listed.
Mid-Missouri bridges planned to be worked on using the proposed bond money, and the year the work would be done are:
Route H over Bois Brule Creek. Improvements in 2021. $857,000.
Route A over Moreau Creek. Improvements in 2022. $777,000.
Route D over I-70. Improvements in 2020. $1,694,000.
I-70 over Auxvasse Creek, east of Kingdom City. Improvements in 2021. $2,028,000.
Route HH over Hinkson Creek. Improvement in 2020. $693,000.
I-70 over Perche Creek. Improvement in 2021. $3,398,000.
I-70 Outer Road over Little Cedar Creek. Improvements in 2021. $1,093,000.
Route D over Minnow Brook Creek. Replacement in 2020. $1,640,000.
U.S. 54 over the Lake of the Ozarks. Improvements in 2021. $1,128,000.
Route N over Rogers Creek. Improvements in 2020. $526,000.
Route C over Deane Creek. Rehabilitation in 2020. $813,000.
Route CC over Medlen and Burris Fork creeks. Improvements in 2020. $1,696,000.
Missouri 100 over Shawnee Creek. Improvements in 2020. $570,000.
Route D over Mistaken Creek. Improvements in 2020. $762,000.
Route N over Contrary Creek. Improvements in 2021. $1,009,000.
Missouri 100 over Deer Creek. Replacement in 2022. $1,916,000.
Missouri 89 over Swan Creek. Improvement in 2022. $698,000.
Missouri 100 over Cedar Creek. Improvement in 2022. $1,173,000.