A long-term transportation bill passed by Congress will allow the Missouri Department of Transportation to spend almost $165 million more in road and bridge improvements in Northeast Missouri in the next five years than previously projected.
MoDOT’s five-year State Transportation Improvement Plan for 2017 through 2021 calls for 97 projects and $253 million in spending in the 17-county Northeast District.
The STIP that covered 2016 through 2020 included 52 projects and $88 million in spending.
Most notable is the inclusion of a new Highway 54 bridge over the Mississippi River at Louisiana. The Illinois Department of Transportation has long had the money it needed to fund its share of the bridge, but Missouri did not. The STIP includes Missouri’s share — more than $27 million local and state funds and $39 million in federal dollars.
But while the scheduled replacement of the Champ Clark bridge — one of the bridges on MoDOT’s system in most dire need of replacement — figures prominently in the STIP unveiled earlier this month, several other major projects are now on MoDOT’s docket.
"Many years of short-term extensions of transportation bills by Congress caused us to be conservative in our past," Kevin James, assistant district engineer for MoDOT’s Northeast Missouri district, said.
That conservative approach, as most recently seen a year ago, resulted in just two projects in Marion County scheduled over the five years from 2016 through 2020 costing $687,000.
With the federal government’s action, coupled with continuing increases in revenue generated through license fees, gas taxes, etc., Marion County can expect 14 projects costing $23.4 million.
With financial uncertainty, Ralls County was scheduled for one project costing $5.4 million.
Since Congress’ action, MoDOT has set seven projects in the county costing $10.65 million.
The projects included in the STIP are "the projects that we put out bid," James explained. "Smaller things like patching roads, culvert replacements and others are things that our maintenance crews do."
Those small projects are not included in the STIP.
Even with its improved financial forecast, James said MoDOT is still being conservative.
The state agency is "using some cash reserves to match federal funds" which James said is "not a long-term solution."
He said MoDOT’s mantra of maintaining its existing system is still very much the operating procedure.
James continued, saying there are "needs that we still won’t be able to meet."
But an improved forecast and scheduled projects will still vastly improve the existing transportation system.
The Hannibal area, for example, could see 10 transportation projects over the next five years on state-maintained roads.
Included in this year’s STIP, but not previously are:
•Pavement improvements on U.S. 36 west of U.S. 61
•Pavement and ADA improvements on U.S. 61 through the city limits.
•Deck, beam cap and pier sealing on Mark Twain Memorial Bridge
•Pavement improvements on Interstate 72 from U.S. 61 to the Mississippi River
•Bridge improvements on U.S. 61 over Bear Creek
•Several bridge improvements on MO 79
•Pavement improvement on U.S. 61 between Hannibal and New London
Elsewhere in the Hannibal area, projects include:
•Replacement of Route 168 bridge over U.S. 61 near Palmyra
•Bridge improvements and replacements on Routes H and P near Center
•Bridge improvement on Route K in Hunnewell
•Bridge improvement over South Fabius River on Route A near Palmyra
Reach editor Eric Dundon at email@example.com .