Included in the draft STIP is MoDOT’s highest priority in the Northeast District – replacement of the 90-year-old Champ Clark Bridge. “With the previous funding shortage, we have been concerned for several years that we would not have been able to preserve this bridge until we could replace it,” explained Paula Gough, MoDOT Northeast District Engineer. “With the receipt of the TIGER Grant and the increase in revenue, we are very pleased this is another step closer to a new bridge becoming a reality,” she added. The new bridge is being procured under a unique method called design-build, which could present more efficiencies and reduce completion time of a new bridge. “Because we are using this process, we will not have a schedule identified for several months,” Gough explained. More information about the design-build method is online at http://www.champclarkbridge.com/champclark/index.php/new-bridge-design.
Whereas the last two years, only a handful of new projects were added to the rolling five-year plan because of a potential severe drop in the MoDOT construction budget, changing economic conditions make this year’s draft STIP more robust. Increased state revenues, predictable federal funding as a result of Congress’ passage of the FAST Act in December 2015, and MoDOT’s ongoing efforts to seek federal reimbursement for preventive maintenance activities have resulted in more funding available for the STIP.
Consequently, 855 projects were added to the 2017-2021 STIP that has $3.97 billion available for construction awards, ranging from $700 million in 2017 to $860 million in 2020 and 2021. The overwhelming majority of projects – 88 percent – are designed to take care of MoDOT’s existing system.
Besides replacing the Champ Clark Bridge, other projects that have been included in this draft STIP for northeast Missouri include:
- A total of 299 miles of resurfacing on major highways; 66 miles on minor roads
- 51 bridges to be repaired or replaced, including the two Cuivre River Bridges on U.S. 61 north of Troy. (this includes preventive maintenance work on both Mississippi River bridges at Quincy, as well as Hannibal )
- The westbound bridge on I-70 over the Loutre River near Mineola
- 5 intersection improvements and/or adding turn lanes throughout the district
In addition to those projects, several transportation needs identified through MoDOT's comprehensive planning process have been added to the Scoping section of the STIP, which means that preliminary engineering can now begin. The first step in preliminary engineering is determining the appropriate solution and the right project scope to meet the need.
“This year’s STIP allows us to make up a little bit of the ground that we lost the last two years,” MoDOT Transportation Planning Director Machelle Watkins told the Commission. “We’ll be able to deliver more safety projects, and we’ll be able to do a better job of maintaining our assets than previously expected," she said. "However, some areas of the state will still lose ground on the condition of their roads and bridges,” she noted.
“We have a long-term insufficient funding challenge if Missourians want more from their state’s transportation system,” Watkins said. “And we don’t have the resources available to attack the state’s really big needs, like the reconstruction of Interstate 70.”
Following the public review period, the comments will be presented to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The commission will review the comments and the final transportation program before considering it for approval at its July 7 meeting.