© 2022 University of Missouri - KBIA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Missouri's bridges are in critical disrepair

Broken concrete fallen from the pedestrian bridge blocks the Hinkson creek on the MKT trail system.
EJ Haas
/
KBIA
Out of 24,538 bridges in the state of Missouri, 9,663 are in need of repair. The MKT trail bridge only gets foot traffic, but for other bridges in need of repair throughout the state, the situation is even more critical. Missouri’s obsolete bridges average a daily traffic of 2,182 vehicles.

Federal funding could improve the state's C- grade on infrastructure and make commuters safer

A massive chunk of concrete blocks the water flow of the Hinkson Creek running through the MKT trail where the center of the bridge, a previously sturdy structure since compromised by years of wear and tear, fell to the ground beneath it. Every day, pedestrians and bikes on the MKT cross this bridge.

animation-video.mp4

Video by Teddy Maiorca, EJ Haas and Nolan Xiong

Out of 24,538 bridges in the state of Missouri, 9,663 — 39% — are functionally obsolete or structurally deficient.

Bridges are rated on a scale of 0 to 9 based on overall safety, functionality and upkeep.

A "functionally obsolete” bridge has a rating of less than 4 out of 9 on the rating scale.

An analysis of the data shows 3,695 bridges — 15% — fit the functionally obsolete criteria in the state. Most of them are still being heavily used every day. The average daily traffic count for all bridges in the state of Missouri is 4,250.4 vehicles.

The average functionally obsolete bridge was built in 1948. The average bridge, regardless of rating, was built in 1976.

The state has fallen behind on inspections and repairs of bridges in the state. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 8,050 bridges have not been inspected in the time frame they are supposed to be.

A map of Missouri indicating bridges rated poor by MoDOT. Each red triangle on the map indicates a poor bridge. The map is covered in red triangles.
Missouri Department of Transportation
According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, “837 bridges that have been rated “poor” using Federal Highway Administration criteria.” This map depicts all “poor” bridges, and can be found on MoDOT’s website alongside maps depicting weight restricted bridges throughout the state.

“The need for action in Missouri is clear and recently released state-level data demonstrates that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will deliver for Missouri,” a news release from the White House states. “For decades, infrastructure in Missouri has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Missouri a C- grade on its infrastructure report card.

“The historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will make life better for millions of Missouri residents, create a generation of good-paying union jobs and economic growth, and position the United States to win the 21st century.”

On Nov. 15, President Joe Biden signed into law the $1.3 trillion infrastructure bill seeking to reform America’s roads, bridges, and highways.

Under the bill, Missouri is expected to receive $484 million for bridge replacement and repairs.

Work on the replacement for the Interstate 70 Missouri River bridge is currently underway. The reconstruction is expected to be about $240 million, with $81.2 million of funding from the Infrastructure For Rebuilding America Grant, according to the governor's office.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the total cost of improving these functionally obsolete bridges is more than $2 billion, and repairing every bridge would cost $4 billion.

The infrastructure bill won’t cover the cost of repairing every bridge in Missouri but it offers an opportunity for the state to begin catching up on improvements bridges around the state.