MoDOT to begin Safe and Sound bridge campaign

Sunday, January 4, 2009 | 4:13 p.m. CST; updated 7:00 p.m. CST, Sunday, January 4, 2009


COLUMBIA — The Missouri Department of Transportation is poised for one of its largest building campaign in history: repairing and replacing 802 of Missouri's worst-rated bridges by 2014. Thirteen of the bridges slated for improvement are in Boone County.

"We were looking for an innovative way to make a large improvement to our state's bridge system," said Bob Brendel, transportation department outreach coordinator and member of Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement team.

Through a rating system of every bridge, the project will divide the neediest bridges into either rehabilitation or replacement projects.

In order to expedite the process and keep the project's cost low, most bridges will be closed entirely during construction.

"Most of these bridges are going to be closed for construction. That keeps cost down," Brendel said. "All of these will have detours established."

With 10,276 bridges spanning the state, Missouri has the seventh-largest bridge network in the nation. Each of these bridges is rated on a scale of zero to nine. Bridges rated two or below are closed, and a score of three or four is considered to be in "serious" or "poor" condition, respectively.

The far majority of the bridges set to be improved by MoDOT's Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program are threes and fours, with a handful of the bridges rated at five.

Ratings are calculated by taking the lowest sub-rating of the super-structure, sub-structure and deck. For example, the Interstate 70 bridge over Sorrells Road has a super-structure rating of six (satisfactory), a sub-structure of seven (good) and a deck of three (serious). Therefore, the entire bridge receives a rating of three.

The combination of an individual bridge's sub-scores help determine whether the bridge will be rehabilitated or completely replaced.

Eight of the 13 bridges in Boone County will be replaced completely. These bridges are part of a single statewide 554 bridge package. The Missouri Department of Transportation began advertising this single design-build package in late October and accepted statements of qualifications through Dec. 3.

On Dec. 12, the transportation department announced a short list of three groups of contractors vying for the 554-bridge project. MoDOT plans to award the contract to the winning team in May. Construction will begin shortly after. 

The remaining five Boone County bridges will be rehabilitation projects. A part of the other 248 rehabilitation bridges across the state, this process involves grouping bridges by type, size, location and age to facilitate the construction.

Of the rehabilitation bridges, 100 of them have been set aside as part of a quick list and will begin improvements early next spring. One of these bridges is located on Route F South over Sugar Creek with construction set to begin soon and to be finished sometime in 2009.

The current international credit crisis has affected how Missouri will fund the building campaign, which is estimated to cost between $500 million and $700 million. This includes $350 million to $500 million for the replacement portion and  $150 million to $200 million for the bridges comprising the rehabilitation project.

Initially, when the bridge campaign was introduced, MoDOT proposed that the improvements be funded through private finances. The initial plan would have the private sector pay during construction, but be paid back during the maintenance period, Brendel said.

However, when the credit market began to dive in September, it became clear that the public sector could borrow money easier than private citizens, Brendel said.

As a result, MoDOT now plans to fund through selling bonds. According to Brendel, MoDOT will then use about one-third of the federal money the state receives to pay off the approximately $50 million annual payments.

The project "doesn't involve any tax increase," Brendel said.

Due to it being the first slated for construction in the county, the Sugar Creek bridge is the only Boone County bridge presently featured on the MoDOT's Safe and Sound interactive map. Eventually, the Web site will feature detailed information on all 802 bridges, including pictures, bridge statistics and construction information, such as the duration of the closure and a detour route on Google Maps.

The information for individual bridges will be put up as it becomes available. Brendel said, details for the other 702 bridges won't be available for a few months.

The teams of contractors making a bid for the bridge work are:

The Missouri Bridge Builders team includes the Clarkson Construction Co. of Kansas City; Fred Weber of Maryland Heights; Emery Sapp & Sons of Columbia; and the Parsons Transportation Group of St. Louis.

The KTU Constructors team   is made up of the Kiewit Western Co. of Omaha; Traylor Brothers of Evansville, Ind.; United Contractors of Great Falls, S.C.; the HNTB Corp. of Kansas City; and The LPA Group of Columbia, S.C.

The Bridges Across Missouri Team includes OCCI Inc. of Fulton; the United Contractors Midwest of Springfield, Ill.; the St. Louis Bridge Construction Co. of Arnold; Peterson Contractors of Reinbeck, Iowa; and TranSystems of Kansas City.

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Ray Shapiro January 4, 2009 | 8:01 p.m.

"Begin a safe and sound bridge campaign? If these bridges are not safe and sound, we should close them down!!!"

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand January 5, 2009 | 6:33 a.m.

How much is MoDOT wasting on the Safe & Sound signs? I see them even on small bridges out in the boondocks, so are they putting them on all 802?

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