U.S. Sen Roy Blunt

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has teamed up with a Democratic senator from Pennsylvania to advocate more funding for replacing outdated bridges across the country.

Franklin County Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke said she always supports more funding for road and bridge work, especially with inflation driving up construction costs.

Gadcke noted that there are about 160 bridges in Franklin County, and about 100 of them have been replaced in the last 20 years since the implementation of the capital improvement sales tax.

Bend Road bridge in eastern Franklin County is the most dire bridge replacement project needed here, she said.

It appears the funding proposed by Blunt and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., would not apply to the Bend Road bridge since it is an “on-system” bridge.

A news release from Blunt’s office states that the senators propose to increase funding for “off-system” bridges by about 10 percent.

Off-system bridges are not on the federal-aid highway system but are found on public roads that are owned and operated by local governments, the news release states.

Gadcke said Bend Road bridge is an on-system bridge because it falls between two sections of state Highway N and is considered an arterial road.

Replacing the county-owned bridge is in the design phase now with the county covering that cost on its own. Furthermore, the county was recently approved for $160,000 in federal funds to help with right of way acquisition costs for the project.

The county plans to apply to the East-West Gateway Council of Governments for the construction funds again next year.

Gadcke said there are five off-system bridges in Franklin County that are structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. That means they would qualify for 80 percent federal funding, including any additional money that Blunt and Casey may get approved.

Gadcke said she wants people to know that the five bridges that could qualify are not in an emergency state and are in low-traveled areas.

Those bridges are located on Country Club Road, which is outside Washington; Bachelor Creek Road, southwest of Union; Ridge Road, in the Sullivan area; Lockhart Road, west of Sullivan; and Elmont Road in the Sullivan area.

The Missouri Department of Transportation inspects bridges every two years and sets the ratings.

Bridge replacement projects can also be looked at as economic development, according to Blunt.

“Bridges and infrastructure are critical to our economy, and Missouri leaders and business owners continue to express a strong need for more certainty in infrastructure planning to expand and attract new businesses,” Blunt said in the news release.