New Missouri law intended to speed up bridge work

| Thursday, September 06, 2007

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt signed a bill into law Wednesday, Sept. 5, to help speed up the repair of bridges throughout the state.

Intended to correct a flaw that has delayed the Missouri Department of Transportation’s plan to award a bid to repair or replace 800 bridges in the state, House and Senate lawmakers meeting in special session signed off on a bill that will quadruple the pace of bridge work by awarding a single 30-year contract.

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

A Federal Highway Administration report shows that Missouri ranks third in the number of bridges in poor condition. Nearly 5,000 bridges throughout the state are structurally deficient, the agency says.

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 AP reported.

The new law, previously HB2, allows the state to start paying the contractor only after all the repairs are completed. Payments to the contractor would be cut off 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.

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