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House committee approves bridge bill

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | 8:20 p.m. CDT; updated 2:31 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — A bill moving through the legislative special session could speed up a bridge rebuilding program, which includes 13 bridges in Boone County.

The rebuilding project would replace 802 of the lowest rated bridges within the state by 2012 and would include 25 years of maintenance by the contractor.

Current state law requires contractors to obtain a bond for the full amount of the construction project from an insurance company.

The problem is no insurance company will provide a bond for such a lengthy process.

“There’s no bond for the extent and breadth of this project,” said House Transportation Committee Chair Rep. Neal St. Onge, R-St. Louis County. “It’s impossible to find; I’ve checked,”

St. Onge is the bill’s sponsor. The bill, which lowered the bond amount, was approved by the House Transportation Committee.

The bill is expected to go before the full House of Representatives today. If approved it will move to the Senate.

“We’re just easing the requirement on this one bridge project,” St. Onge said. “We’re just allowing the bidding process to happen.”

The rebuilding project, with an estimated cost of $400 million to $600 million, is the largest bridge repair proposal ever made by the state.

“It’s obvious we don’t have the funds to fix them all at once,” St. Onge said.

Federal funds given to the state over the next few years would be used to help pay for the rebuilding.

The proposed rebuilding in Boone County includes two roads that cross Interstate 70, five access roads to the interstate and one bridge on U.S. 63.

Missouri Department of Transportation spokesman Bob Brendel said the bill must be passed before the building project can move forward.

Gov. Matt Blunt announced the bridge proposal in September 2006, and Brendel said the department has already begun narrowing down the list of possible contractors.

If the bill is approved and signed by the governor, the department will pick between the remaining two candidates and construction could begin next spring.

The bridge rebuilding project is not connected to the Missouri bridge inspections following the collapse of a Minneapolis bridge on Aug 1.

Following the collapse, the Missouri Transportation Department announced plans to inspect 11 similarly constructed bridges in the state.


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