Franklin County hopes to get its hands on some money from the multi-billion dollar federal infrastructure bill the Trump administration will tackle early next year.
First District Commissioner Tim Brinker said he has spoken with federal Department of Transportation (DOT) officials and they assured him infrastructure is the next thing on the president’s list after tax reform.
During his talks with the DOT, Brinker laid out several road projects in Franklin County for which they are seeking funds from the federal government, including Highway 47 from Washington to St. Clair.
“I confirmed the project numbers requested by Congressman (Blaine) Luetkemeyer’s office in April of this year are indeed part of the numbers in President Trump’s infrastructure plan,” Brinker said. “I’ve been advised to stay in touch with them, as well as our U.S. senators, Gov. (Eric) Greitens and MoDOT.”
Brinker spoke with Chris Mitton from the DOT office of governmental affairs who assured him the verbiage and numbers of the federal bill are 90 percent complete and includes $200 billion in infrastructure funds.
“It will be heavily front-loaded, making funding available faster for ready projects,” Brinker said. “They were truly cooperative and positive regarding their belief that this will get done.”
In addition to dollars for new projects, Brinker also sought federal guidance on removal of the existing Bend Road Bridge outside Pacific, which they have already butted heads with the state about.
At issue are requirements by Missouri state wildlife and conservation agencies who are protecting mussel beds in the Meramec River.
Because of the forced restrictions, the county will not be able to bring down the bridge in one piece into the river with explosives. The contractor will instead have to cut the metal bridge into pieces while still in place and remove them one by one.
“This adds over $100,000 to the project, minimum, and this needs to be addressed,” Brinker said. “These kinds of issues are costing taxpayers and contractors time and money.”
After speaking with DOT, Brinker said he was advised to reach out to U. S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as the Missouri Department of Conservation.
“I will request a meeting with them to minimize the additional tax burden on a project that should have been done decades ago,” Brinker said.
The county is pushing the Highway 47 as a “ready” project since it has been on MoDOT’s radar for many years.
Estimates for widening the current two-lane 12-mile stretch is $100 million.
Plans include upgrading the entire route to four or more lanes, which will encompass the need for additional right of way, utility relocations, drainage systems, lighting systems and traffic signal upgrades.
Other projects Brinker stressed to the federal DOT were:
• Old Highway 100 rehabilitation from the Washington city limits to a point just east of Dunne Spring Road.
The four-mile project would include removing existing asphalt and installing a geotextile fabric. Then resurfacing with 4 inches of new asphalt to repair the failing pavement due to constant overflow during heavy rains. This project is estimated at $2 million.
• Project Road repairs just off of Highway KK along the Meramec River and Indian Creek. The project calls for slope repairs to keep the roadway viable and is estimated at $300,000.
Because of its proximity to the bodies of water, the project will require state and federal permitting as well.
Other county projects include the culvert replacement at American Inn Road, estimated at $100,000; culvert replacement at Segelhorst Road, estimated at $50,000; Maupin Road culvert replacement, estimated at $75,000; and Oak Grove Church Road culvert replacement, estimated at $60,000.