MODOT says bridge projects ahead of schedule

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- It looks like MoDOT’s campaign to fix 802 of the state’s worst bridges is going to come to an end early.

MoDOT Director Kevin Keith told the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight tha the department’s Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Project was running ahead of schedule, and all of the plan’s projects will be complete in about three and a half years.

The department recently celebrated the completion of its 600th project with a bridge reopening in DeKalb County. The Safe and Sound project began with a $685 million outlay in 2009. Keith said the final projects should be finished by mid 2012.

But, Keith warned committee members the Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Project only only scratches the surface of the problem in Missouri.

“We’ll still have 26, 27-hundred deficient bridges in Missouri,” said Keith. “And the average age of those bridges is over 46 years old, and they’re designed to last 50 years. That makes me even more nervous.”

Keith said he’s not sure where to get the money to continue the program through 2012. The department is dealing with a $600 million reduction in federal and state highway funds.