Bill to speed up bridge work in Missouri nears passage

| 8/28/2007

A Missouri Senate panel has approved a bill to help speed up the repair of bridges throughout the state.

Meeting in special session, the Senate Transportation Committee voted 7-1 Monday, Aug. 27, to advance a bill to the Senate floor that would correct a glitch that has delayed the Missouri Department of Transportation’s plan to award a single bid to repair or replace 800 bridges in the state. If approved by the full Senate, it would head to Gov. Matt Blunt’s desk. House lawmakers approved the bill last week on a 135-14 vote.

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. 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 25 years envisioned by the state. Bridge renovations are expected to take five years to complete.

Rep. Neal St. Onge, R-Ellisville, said he is hopeful the Transportation Department will be able to award a contract this fall. That would allow bridge repairs to begin in early 2008, The Associated Press reported.

The bill – HB2 – would cut off payments to the contractor if at any point the bridges being renovated fall short of expectations.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor