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By Mike Scott
Nearly 4000 vehicles traveled the stretch of U.S. Hwy. 61 between Alexandria and Iowa line in 2020 each day. Many of those vehicles belong to Clark County residents going to work, or to shop in Keokuk. When the Mississippi River floods, the detour adds nearly a half-hour to the trip each way.
On Thursday, May 5, the Missouri Department of Transportation presented its draft 2022-2026 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).
“In the Draft State Fiscal Year 2022-2026 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), Job No. 2P3062 is 1.65 miles in length and described as ‘Roadway improvements from the Iowa State line to east of Rte. 136 near Alexandria’,” said Paula Gough, MoDOT District Engineer for the Northeast District.
“This is a flood resiliency project to raise the grade of US 61 to reduce the days of closure due to flooding. This has been a priority transportation need for the Northeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission’s Transportation Advisory Committee. The purpose of the project is to reduce the days of closure, but will not eliminate all closures for the more severe flood events. It is currently scheduled for SFY 2024, which is July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025,” she said.
The project is anticipated to cost $5,358,000 dollars, with $4,172,000 dollar coming from federal funds, and $1,0144,000 in state funding.
Other local projects included in the 2000-2026 draft STIP are:
•19.01 miles of pavement improvements to two disconnected sections of Hwy. 136 from 2.5 miles east of Rt. BB to Hwy. 61 near Alexandria. The project is anticipated to be awarded in 2022, at a cost of $3,605,000.
•45.14 miles of pavement improvements to U.S. 61 from Rt. B near LaGrange to the Iowa line, including southbound and northbound lanes of Hwy. 27 from the Iowa state line to the Hwy. 61 interchange. The project is anticipated to be awarded in 2022, at a cost of $4,423,000.
•14.59 miles of pavement Improvements to Hwy. 81 from the Iowa state line to Kahoka. This project is estimated to cost 1,117,000, and is expected to be awarded in the fall of 2022.
Missouri Department of Transportation Planning Director Eric Curtit told Missouri Highways and Transportation commissioners the draft STIP includes 1,417 highway and bridge projects, of which 84% will maintain the system in the condition it is in today. On average, this STIP annually invests in 740 lane miles of interstate pavements, 1,387 miles of major route pavements, 2,733 miles of minor route pavements and 277 bridges.
Missouri has the nation’s seventh largest state highway system with 33,832 miles of roadways and 10,397 bridges but ranks 45th nationally in revenue per mile.
“MoDOT’s priority is maintaining the existing system of highways and bridges,” Curtit said. “We have developed asset management plans for each district, which focus on preventive maintenance Improvements to keep good roads and bridges in good condition. If preventive maintenance investments were not made, the cost of improving the asset in poor condition can cost four to ten times more.”
This STIP includes funding for the “Focus on Bridges” program that was initiated by Governor Parson and funded by the Missouri General Assembly in 2019. The first phase authorized $50 million in general revenue to expedite the repair and replacement of 45 bridges that had already been identified as some of the state’s top bridge priorities by local planning organizations. The second authorized $301 million in bonding – to be repaid over seven years from general revenue – to repair or replace another 215 bridges that had been previously prioritized, contingent on Missouri receiving a federal INFRA Grant to replace the I-70 Missouri River Bridge at Rocheport. Missouri received an $81.2 million INFRA Grant in July 2019, which triggered the first of two bond sales which occurred in November 2019. During 2020, 101 Focus on Bridges projects were completed and many more will be completed in 2021.
This STIP was developed assuming a federal funding level consistent with the last year of the FAST Act and includes the federal surface transportation funding provided by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), which was enacted on Dec. 27, 2020. Other funding assumptions include redirected CARES Act monies and bond issuances in 2023 and 2026 to be repaid with dedicated motor vehicle sales tax revenue which is deposited in the State Road Bond Fund per the Amendment 3 legislation.
The STIP details an annual construction program that averages $1.1 billion per year for the five-year period. But it is insufficient to meet the state’s unfunded high-priority transportation needs that are estimated in MoDOT’s “Citizen’s Guide to Transportation Funding” at an additional $825 million per year.
“The STIP represents our commitment to Missourians of the projects that will be developed and delivered over the next five years,” MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said.
The draft STIP also includes detailed project information for non-highway modes of transportation. It includes a section detailing planned operations and maintenance activities for the next three years, alongside expenditures for those same activities in the prior year. This additional information is provided to allow Missourians to more easily see how their transportation funding is invested.
The draft 2022-2026 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program lists transportation projects planned by state and regional planning agencies for fiscal years 2022 through 2026 (July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2026). The proposed program is available for public review. Those interested in seeing the program or offering comments can contact MoDOT by email to STIPcomments@modot.mo.gov, by calling customer service at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636), or by mail to Transportation Planning, Program Comments, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO 65102. The program is also available on MoDOT’s website:
https://www.modot.org/DRAFTSTIP. The formal comment period ends June 4, 2021.
The Commission will review the comments and the final transportation program before considering it for approval at its July meeting.