A 2020 bridge repair could cause major traffic jams if bond proposal fails

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COLUMBIA - Mid-Missouri leaders who are part of the I-70 task force are looking to stop a six to eight hour traffic jam during the 2020 rehabilitation of the Missouri River Bridge in Rocheport.

The task force met for the first time on Friday to discuss two options: repairing the bridge or replace it entirely. If the bridge is repaired, this is the last repair it can undergo. The Missouri Department of Transportation would fund the repair through a grant.

Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick said he wants to skip the 2020 repair and replace the bridge instead. He said the 2020 repair could cause major traffic delays every day for a year while crews work to fix the bridge. He also said he's worried the delays would negatively affect the mid-Missouri economy.

"This one project will cause business and tourist to find alternate routes to by pass our region or state all together," said McCormick. "The 59 year old bridge needs to be replaced and that's our target. To replace the bridge and not repair it." 

The task force said the money to replace the bridge would come from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's $351 million bond proposal to repair or replace 250 bridges across the state. Parson proposed the bond earlier this year, and is waiting for lawmakers to vote on it.

Boone County Presiding Commissioner Daniel Atwill said if the bond doesn't pass, replacing the bridge is out of the question. 

"Every citizen of the county that is concerned with this should call their legislators and impress upon them the importance of getting this done because if we are faced with six to eight hours of delays of getting though central Missouri in 2020, we are going to have a lot of bad things happen here," said Atwill. 

The task force said lawmakers have until May to vote on the bond. If the bond fails, the Missouri Department of Transportation will move forward with the plan to repair for the Missouri River Bridge in 2020.