Federal funding has been approved to help pay for replacing the I-70 bridge over the Missouri River at Rocheport, Missouri's congressional members announced Monday.
U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, along with U.S. Reps. Sam Graves and Vicky Hartzler, announced that the Missouri Department of Transportation will receive an $81.2 million Infrastructure For Rebuilding America grant from the federal Department of Transportation.
The Rocheport bridge carries approximately 12.5 million vehicles, including 3.6 million trucks, per year in both directions, according to MoDOT.
The bridge was built in 1960 and currently is rated in "poor" condition.
The grant will enable a $240 million project to replace the existing four-lane I-70 bridge with a six-lane structure built just to the south of the current location, as well as reconstruct the Route BB interchange just east of the bridge, according to a news release from Gov. Mike Parson's office.
The existing bridge will continue to be used during construction in an effort to lessen any impacts to traffic from the new bridge construction.
Columbia, Boonville, and Boone and Cooper counties have committed $4.2 million in local funds to help fund the a new bridge, MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna noted.
MoDOT will now begin the environmental assessment and design for the new bridge, with construction likely to begin sometime in 2021.
Before Monday's grant announcement, MoDOT had planned an $18 million rehabilitation project on the current Rocheport bridge to extend its life by an additional 10-15 years. Construction would have begun in early spring 2020.
However, with the grant money, MoDOT has cancelled that plan and public meetings scheduled to discuss it.
The grant will also allow the state to construct climbing lanes on I-70 at Mineola Hill in Montgomery County, which MoDOT officials said will improve safety and traffic flow through the Loutre River valley.
Parson's office reported that the receipt of the grant triggers $301 million in state bonding, authorized by the Missouri General Assembly during the 2019 session, that will repair or replace another 215 bridges across the state. The bonds will be repaid out of state general revenue over a seven-year period.
It will also free up $301 million that was already committed to these bridge projects in the current Statewide Transportation Improvement Program to enable other "high-priority transportation needs across the state." Parson's office said the projects will be identified in cooperation with local officials across the state.