An $81.2 million federal grant to replace the Interstate 70 bridge over the Missouri River near Rocheport will trigger $301 million in state-authorized bonds and allow the Missouri Department of Transportation to move forward with the project.

The bonds also will allow MoDOT to fix or replace 214 other bridges across the state, a news release from Gov. Mike Parson said. The bonds, which will be repaid from the state general fund over seven years, were authorized by the Missouri General Assembly and the governor earlier this year but were contingent upon the state receiving the federal grant.

The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program. Although the state requested $172.5 million, the smaller grant will enable it to replace the Rocheport bridge.

A new six-lane bridge will be built just south of the existing span, which was built in 1960 and has four lanes. The Route BB interchange east of the bridge will also be rebuilt, according to the news release.

The first step toward the new bridge will be to begin an environmental assessment and to plan the design for the new bridge. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2021.

MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna thanked U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; 6th District Congressman Sam Graves, R-Mo.; and others in Missouri’s congressional delegation for their work securing the grant and Parson for pushing the bond issue.

“This could not have happened without his determination and unwavering support of infrastructure investment,” McKenna said of Parson.

He also thanked the cities of Columbia and Boonville as well as Boone and Cooper counties for committing $4.2 million toward the project.

Local authorities and business owners had worried that repairing the bridge rather than replacing it would cause extensive traffic delays that would have a devastating impact on the local economy. Because the existing bridge will remain open while the new one is built, there will be minimal effects on traffic.

  • Fall 2019 Photo Editor. Summer 2019 General Assignment Reporter. Spring 2019 Staff Photographer. I'm a graduate student on the photojournalism track. You can reach me at jeffreyzide@mail.missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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