We’re Getting a New Bridge, But . . . - The Missourian: Columns

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We’re Getting a New Bridge, But . . .

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Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 7:00 pm

The area populace is happy that a new bridge is on schedule for Highway 47 over the Missouri River at Washington. But it’s going to be somewhat of a “plain Jane” structure because what many people consider regular enhancements will be missing — unless funding can be found somewhere.

Decorative railing for the east side will be missing unless additional money rears a pleasing head. The special city bridge committee learned last week that the additional cost for decorative railing on the east side would be about $260,000, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The west side will have decorative railing. That’s where the pedestrian walkway will be. It also is the side facing the Washington riverfront so people, and/or boaters on that side, will have the pleasing decorative look.

MoDOT and the bridge committee are supporting the seeking of a $20 million grant from the federal government that could provide the funds to make up for the shortfall for enhancements for the new bridge. Previous requests for that type of funding have not been successful. The city, and Franklin and Warren counties, have pledged $800,000 toward enhancements. It is anticipated that if the grant is approved, about $1 million could go toward enhancements.

Of note, the new bridge at Hermann has decorative railing on both sides and between the pedestrian and traffic lanes. However, the funding situation was a different story at that time. Money was available.

Comments were made at the bridge committee meeting last week that the new structure will look “incomplete” without decorative railing on both sides. We readily agree with that assessment.

This country, its states, counties and cities have a reputation that when public structures are built they are constructed first of all to be sound and lasting for many years, and enhancements are included. Bridges are included in that reputation. There are thousands, probably millions, of examples of public structures that meet the lasting and attractive reputation. We don’t have to look very far to see examples. The courthouses in Missouri are an example. The

new bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis is an example.

We all know MoDOT is pressed for funding. If relief doesn’t come, heaven help us. The General Assembly is considering a 1-cent sales tax for transportation that has MoDOT’s blessing. The bill in question would give citizens in November the opportunity to vote on the proposal. There are those people who believe there should be an increase in the gasoline tax rather than going the sales tax route. A hike in the gasoline tax won’t produce enough to solve the funding shortfall for MoDOT.

It’s great to be getting a new Highway 47 bridge here. It’s disappointing that it will have an “incomplete” appearance — unless the funding is forthcoming.

Sens. Blunt and McCaskill and our Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer support additional funding. We hope they will push hard for the grant approval.

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