We’re glad to see Northeast Missouri benefit from the patience and dedication of the folks who saw a need for this project, and are making it happen.

You may not live in or visit Louisiana, Mo., or Pike County, Ill., but the awarding of a bid to replace the aging and deteriorating Champ Clark Bridge will certainly affect you.

After a long process, Massman Construction of St. Louis will build a new bridge to last 100 years, spanning the Mississippi River and linking Missouri to Illinois. Massman earned the bid by a Thursday afternoon vote by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

The effects will be felt far beyond the Pike Counties (Missouri and Illinois). One person commenting before the commission estimated the economic impact to the area would be $6 to every $1 spent on the bridge. With an estimated budget of around $60 million, that’s a roughly $360 million impact on the surrounding area.

Freight will more easily pass on a wider, safer bridge with longer, wider approaches on both sides of the river. Many people won’t have to drive to Hannibal or Alton to cross the river in fear of passing over the 90-year-old span.

Clarksville mayor Jo Anne Smiley said a new span will help protect the integrity of her small town that relies on tourism. A new bridge will help facilitate the use of Missouri Route 79, right up to Hannibal.

Moreover, the commission showed that transportation improvements in Northeast Missouri are important. Let’s face it, NEMO doesn’t get as much attention and funding as more heavily populated areas of the state.

That’s understandable.

But for too long, it’s felt as if the Champ Clark Bridge project and others weren’t on the radar.

We must compliment project director Keith Killen and his team for leading an organized, methodical approach to this project.

It has also been exciting to see the collaboration with Missouri and Illinois transportation officials during this process. Many times during the commission meeting, commissioners and members of the project team commented on how integral the work with Illinois has been.

In transportation, rarely is an entity working entirely alone. A regional approach to transportation issues, as demonstrated by the Missouri and Illinois teams, makes for a stronger project.

A groundbreaking ceremony will take place in the next several months. That again will be another milestone in this process. We’re glad to see this project come to fruition.

We’re glad to see Northeast Missouri benefit from the patience and dedication of the folks who saw a need for this project, and are making it happen.