The latest bad news about deteriorating bridges in Missouri makes us even more grateful about the pending construction of a new Missouri River bridge here.

Based on recent inspections, MoDOT officials say that 641 bridges in Missouri are in such bad condition they are a blink away from being closed. And there’s no funds earmarked for repairs or replacement.

That’s 50 more bridges on the critical list than last year.

MoDOT has closed four bridges because of their deteriorated condition and expects to close more in the coming year.

Expect that list to grow year after year because many bridges in Missouri are just plain OLD!

Like the bridge here at Washington.

When work begins late next year on a new Missouri River span, the current structure will be 80 years old, well beyond its expected 50-year lifespan.

It was a long struggle to secure approval and funding to replace the old bridge, which had not been on the short list for replacement. Major repairs were made twice since 1996.

In the end, transportation officials and lawmakers bowed to the squeaky wheel, in this case a regional committee spearheaded by local attorney Bob Zick. Zick became passionate about getting a new bridge after the Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis, Minn., collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145. That bridge, which had components similar to the Washington Bridge, was only 40 years old.

Zick and company never wavered from their mission, first getting support of local government officials throughout the area and then the backing of federal and state officials who were able to secure funding for the $60 million project.

Efforts for a new bridge also were backed by the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee and the city.

Here, it has been a success story, with the next chapters to be written in 2016 when a contract will be awarded and initial work started. Officials hope to have traffic on the bridge in 2018.

Meanwhile, many other Missouri bridges continue to deteriorate because of a lack of funding to repair or replace them.

Will it take a catastrophe like the bridge collapse in Minnesota to get Missouri lawmakers to realize the need to address our aging bridges and other transportation infrastructure?

Everyone’s tired of more of the same political sidestepping.

While our legislators continue to fiddle around, more Missouri roads and bridges are failing!

Where’s the leadership?