July 26, 2019
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) announced Monday afternoon the U.S. Department of Transportation had granted the Missouri Department of Transportation $81.2 million in federal funds toward the replacement of the Interstate 70 bridge at Rocheport.
“The Rocheport Bridge is a vital component of our nation’s highway system, carrying millions of people and billions of dollars in freight every year,” Blunt said in a statement. “Replacing the bridge will create a safer, more reliable transportation route for businesses, travelers and local residents. This has been one of the top infrastructure priorities for our state and I appreciate Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s support for getting it done. Location is our greatest competitive advantage in Missouri, and I’ll continue advocating for the federal resources necessary to improve our state’s transportation system and keep our economy growing.”
The current bridge built in 1960 sees approximately 12.5 million vehicles, including 3.6 million trucks, cross per year, according to MoDOT.
Currently rated in poor condition, the bridge was set to undergo a planned rehabilitation project with driving surface sealing, expansion joint replacement, partial painting and steel structure repairs. The work would extend the life of the bridge an additional 10 to 15 years, at a cost of approximately $18 million, the department stated.
It is now unclear if those repairs will take place with a brand new bridge given the okay. MoDOT officials said there would be an announcement on that soon.
A release from Blunt's office stated the grant will allow MoDOT to make increased investments in additional bridge and road projects throughout the state. He made the announcement in conjunction with Republican Congressional figures from Missouri: Sen. Josh Hawley, Rep. Vicky Hartzler and Rep. Sam Graves.
The grant will enable MoDOT to begin the environmental assessment and design for the new bridge, with construction likely to begin sometime in 2021, Gov. Mike Parson said in a release.