Bridges Not "Safe and Sound"
But, a bump in the road this week slowed the process down. It boils down to a bond issue that MODOT didn't quite expect. The state doesn't have specific laws dealing with the new type of multi-million dollar bond needed to fund the construction. Traditionally a bond is levied to pay a contractor as the job is being done. However, MODOT is the first in the nation to pay the contractor only after the project is done. So while the state sorts out the paperwork, Missouri's worst bridges will stay that way. Missouri has ten thousand bridges, and more than one thousand of them are in serious condition.
"We're talking about bridges that are approaching a condition in which we will have to make decisions about shutting them down," said Pete Rahn, MODOT Director.
MODOT's safe and sound plan addresses that problem, repairing 802 of the worst bridges across the state by 2012. More than 80 are in mid-Missouri. It was almost a year ago that MODOT announced it's Safe and Sound plan under this bridge on route WW. As you can see by this bridge and many others in Missouri , peices are just falling off. The plan has now fallen behind, and the question remains: How much longer can these bridges wait?
"Again, as we started this whole process we said that this had never been done," Rahn said. "We don't know what we are going to encounter. Our desire is to still have these bridges fixed within 5 years. And right now I believe that is still going to occur, assuming we can over come this performance bond hurdle."
With the bond language in question, the state will have to wait to select a contractor, keeping repairs are on hold.
"Assuming that we can get past this hurdle with the bonding language, selection will be made this fall," Rahn said. "We would have the team under contract and we'll see bridges being repaired by next year."
The contractor that wins the bid will have to bring all of the selected bridges up to good condition in five years. They will also have to maintain them in good condition for at least the next 25 years.