Missouri approves transportation stimulus project list

Friday, March 20, 2009 | 11:42 a.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri transportation commissioners Thursday approved an $833 million plan for spending federal economic stimulus money on roads, bridges and other modes of transportation.

The plan actually is about $45 million larger than the amount of transportation money that is supposed to be available to Missouri under the stimulus law.

But state transportation officials say they don't expect to have to trim out any projects because construction costs have been coming in 10 percent to 15 percent below projections. They say the larger list also could give Missouri a chance to gain additional money if other states can't quickly spend all the federal dollars allotted to them.

The Highways and Transportation Commission approved the project list during a meeting in Springfield. Included are about 140 specific road and bridge projects totaling $577 million that were selected based both on their need and their ability to get started quickly.

Among the most expensive projects:

— $65 million in stimulus dollars that will be combined with other funds for a $130 million expansion of Missouri 141 in St. Louis County.

— $43 million for an extension of Missouri 364 in St. Charles County.

— $27.3 million in stimulus dollars that will be combined with other funds for a $32.2 million replacement of the interchange at Interstates 70 and 435 in Kansas City.

— $26 million to rebuild the pavement of Interstate 44 in Franklin County.

— $23 million to convert four intersections to interstate-quality exits on U.S. 71 in Barton and Bates counties.

— $21 million in stimulus dollars that will be combined with other funds for a $34.5 million project widening U.S. 65 to six lanes in Springfield.

Also on the list are dozens of smaller repaving projects, such as $47,000 in stimulus dollars that, when combined with other funds, would complete a $79,000 repaving of Route K in Webster County.

Missouri staked its claim as the first state to get started on federal infrastructure projects when crews began work on a rural central Missouri bridge replacement just minutes after President Barack Obama signed the stimulus law last month.

Before Thursday, Missouri transportation commissioners already had approved 37 road and bridge contracts worth about $91 million to be funded with federal stimulus dollars.

Those projects are included in the broader, complete list of projects approved Thursday. Specific contracts for the rest of the projects will be awarded later.

Transportation Director Pete Rahn said the project list keeps Missouri near the front of states in allocating federal stimulus money.

"With the action of the commission today, it will allow us to move forward aggressively, and I believe quicker than other (departments of transportation) are," Rahn said.

The total $833 million plan includes some items over which the Missouri Department of Transportation does not have direct control. For example, federal public transit money flows directly to the entities that run bus and rail systems in larger cities. Federal stimulus money also goes directly to larger commercial airports, although the totals are included in the state's overall plan.

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