Although the Missouri Department of Transportation failed to receive a federal grant for a new Missouri River bridge at Washington, the agency is moving forward with planning for the project.
Judy Wagner, MoDOT area engineer, said Monday that 10 engineering firms have submitted letters of interest indicating they want to design the new span to replace the current bridge built in the mid 1930s.
She told members of the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee that MoDOT officials are reviewing the letters and will conduct interviews with the firms on two days in July, then award a contract for the preliminary engineering work.
Meanwhile, members of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission are expected to approve the new five-year State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) — which includes the new bridge — when it meets in Washington Wednesday, July 11.
Mayor Sandy Lucy said the commissioners are scheduled to arrive in Washington about 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, and will be staying at the Old Dutch Hotel. That evening a reception and dinner will be held for the commission.
The group then will meet Wednesday morning in a closed session, followed by the open meeting at 11 a.m. and lunch at the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame. Commissioners will hold a second closed session in the afternoon.
During the open meeting, the city will present the commission with a wheelbarrow containing $1,394.63 in pennies that were collected by area school children as a show of community support for the project, Lucy noted.
Wagner said only a few items are on the commission’s agenda, including the recommendation to approve the new STIP.
The proposed STIP calls for construction to begin on a new Missouri River bridge by 2017.
The new bridge is estimated to cost $57 million for construction and $5-$6 million for engineering.
MoDOT applied for a $20 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation. If approved, it would have allowed to begin the new bridge project earlier than 2017.
Officials learned last week that only one grant was approved for Missouri, a $12 million appropriation for the city of Joplin which was ravaged by a tornado in May 2011.
The U.S. DOT reported receiving 703 applications asking for a total of $10.2 billion in grants out of a total pool of $500 million.
Wagner said this was the fourth round of TIGER grants and it’s uncertain whether Congress will approve another round of funding next year.
Under a cost participation agreement with MoDOT, Washington as well as Franklin and Warren counties will contribute $800,000 toward “enhancements” for the new bridge.
The city and counties are required to deposit their contribution with the state commission by Dec. 31, 2012, and that money would be invested by the commission.
The money, plus interest earned, will be reimbursed to the city and counties if a construction contract for a new bridge is not awarded by Dec. 31, 2018, the agreement states, “unless the parties agree in writing to extend this deadline because of good faith efforts being made by the commission.”
The last time the state highway commission met in Washington was in early June of 2008.