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Missouri Department of Transportation gets money to repair decaying bridges

Some Missouri bridges in critical need of repair or replacement will now be able to be fixed.

ABC 17 News reported last week more than 640 bridges are in critical condition across the state.

Now, the Missouri Department of Transportation will get about $100 million to make much needed bridge repairs.

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission has voted to give MoDOT extra funding that came in from state taxes, vehicle taxes and licensing fees from the 2014 fiscal year. After the ability to match federal funds, that will equal about $200 million. Half of that money will go toward repairing bad pavement and the other half will go toward repairing bridges, State Bridge Engineer Dennis Heckman said.

Heckman estimated the $100 million would only repair about 30 to 40 bridges. That means more than 600 bridges will remain in critical condition.

“We’re going to take some of that revenue and see that we spread it among some of these bridges,” Stephen Miller, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission chairman said. “But we will not even come close to addressing the problem because we’re adding about 100 bridges per year to this critical list.”

All Missouri bridges are rated on a scale from 2 to 9, 9 being a brand new bridge and 2 being one that is not safe enough to drive on and must be closed, Heckman said.

Many bridges that will be repaired with the funding are larger in size, Heckman said. That is one reason why he estimated only a small number will be fixed.

“All we’re doing is slowing the decay,” Miller said. “So we shouldn’t think that we’re fixing that we’re fixing this system at all. You know we’ve managed to slow it down. What people need to understand is it’s going to continue to get worse, we’re going to have more and more backlog and the hole gets deeper and deeper and deeper every year.”

Right now, six bridges are closed statewide. Two have been closed within the last week. If the trend continues, there will be 1,500 bridges in critical condition in 10 years, Miller said.

Miller said he would like to see lawmakers increase the state fuel tax to help with funding MoDOT and get more of the bridges repaired.

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