As Parson promotes plan for bridges, how do Missouri’s measure up?

Construction started last week on a bridge in Montgomery County that will be the first replaced as part of Gov. Mike Parson’s “Focus on Bridges” program, the governor’s office announced. The plan includes $301 million of bonds to fund repairs of 215 bridges across the state, plus an $81.2 million federal grant for two projects along Interstate 70 and $50 million in appropriations to repair another 45 bridges.

Parson has made infrastructure improvement a focus of his administration since taking office. The state has more than 10,300 bridges on state highways — sixth most in the nation, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation — and more than 900 of them are in poor condition.

Most state bridges are in fair condition, according to a quarterly report from the department of transportation. But the percentage of those in poor condition, which need major rehabilitation or replacement, is trending upward. The figure was 8.7% last year, up from 8.2% in 2014.

Nationally, Rhode Island has the most structurally deficient bridges, according to American Road and Transportation Builders Association, or ARTBA. More than 23% of bridges in the state have one key element in poor or worse condition. In Missouri, 8.6% of bridges were structurally deficient in 2018, according to ARTBA.

The national association’s figures account for bridges located on all public roads, whereas the Missouri transportation department’s figures reflect only state highways.

According to ARTBA, the most-traveled deficient bridges in the state are in St. Louis County. The bridge located at I-270 East over Conway Road had the most daily vehicle crossings of these deficient bridges at 198,800. This bridge was built in 1964.

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