Special session called in Missouri to speed up bridge work

| 8/15/2007

Gov. Matt Blunt announced that Missouri lawmakers will head back to the Capitol next week to consider an effort to speed up repairs to bridges. An additional $550 million in bonds also were authorized for roads in the state.

The special session scheduled to start Monday, Aug. 20, will focus largely on a measure intended to correct a flaw that has delayed the Missouri Department of Transportation’s plan to award a single bid to repair or replace more than 800 bridges around the state.

In July, MODOT delayed plans to choose a contractor for its bridge repair program. The agency cited requirements for the performance bonds the contractor would need for the delay, The Associated Press reported. Performance bonds protect taxpayers if a contractor abandons a project after it has started.

Existing bond rules essentially limit contractors to designing and building bridges. Supporters say changes are needed to allow contractors to maintain bridges during the 30 years envisioned by the state.

In other Missouri transportation news, the state transportation commission has authorized the issuance of an additional $550 million in bonds for road work. The bonds likely will be issued later this month, The AP reported.

The go-ahead on issuing more bonds will bring to $1.7 billion the total amount issued since voters in the state approved a constitutional amendment three years ago to direct more money to highways.

MODOT is expected to issue an additional $350 million of bonds next year under the authority of the constitutional amendment. Approved in 2004, Amendment 3 diverted money from other parts of the state budget to roads.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor