Report: Missouri ranks fourth in deficient bridges

7 months 5 hours 19 minutes ago Wednesday, February 21 2018 Feb 21, 2018 Wednesday, February 21, 2018 4:21:00 PM CST February 21, 2018 in Top Stories
By: Nora Faris, KOMU 8 Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY - Nearly six million vehicles cross structurally deficient bridges every day in the state of Missouri. That's according to a recent report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

The report ranks Missouri as fourth worst in the nation for number of structurally deficient bridges. The report found that about one in 10 bridges is structurally deficient, meaning at least "one key element of the bridge is in poor or worse condition."

Dennis Heckman, MoDOT state bridge engineer, said about 900 of MoDOT's bridges are rated "poor" and are in line for significant repairs.

"A good rule of thumb for cost is about $1 million per bridge, so the state has about $900 million in bridge repair needs alone," Heckman said.

The significant need for transportation infrastructure is driving some legislators to consider emergency measures.

Rep. Bart Korman (R-High Hill), who has a background as a professional engineer, said Missouri needs an emergency plan to deal with structurally deficient bridges. 

His House Bill 2153 would allocate $100 million to emergency repairs, partially bridging MoDOT's funding gap.

"We need some dedicated funding so that when a bridge goes out, we can actually replace it and not have to wait, sometimes years, to get the needed repairs," Korman said.

The average age of a bridge in Missouri is about 46 years, and most bridges were built to last 50 years. Heckman said MoDOT is able to fix or replace about 100 bridges annually, but about 110 bridges are added each year to the already long list of bridges needing repairs.

"At the end of the day, I ask: would I let my family drive across that bridge?" Heckman said. "If the answer to that is no, we close the bridge."

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