Safe & Sound Bridge Program Still Stalled
MoDOT has been planning for some time to use an innovative public-private partnership program to repair 802 of the worst bridges in the state. It took a couple of legislative acts in order to get the program authorized, and now it appears the weak economy is threatening the entire project. David Catanese of KY3 in Springfield is always interested in transportation issues, and he has an informative report here on the Program is facing. In short, it sounds as if the contractor and MoDOT are having trouble reaching an agreement on the price because of rising interest rates and commodity prices.
The recent Reason Foundation report that ranked Missouri’s transportation system 13th in the nation still ranks us low (40th) for the quality of our bridges. Needless to say, it is imperative that the Safe & Sound program get moving to address this problem. I hope it happens via partnership with the private sector. It is going to have to get done somehow, though, and if that means using the transitional design-bid-build system paid for by bonds, then unfortunately, it may have to be done that way. (Assuming MoDOT has any bonding authority left.)
This situation really isn’t anybody’s fault. It’s well-known that commodity prices have increased, and credit market problems have been documented a time or two. So here’s hoping that the project gets going soon, to benefit all of us. I know MoDOT is doing all it can to move public-private partnerships forward, but I guess right now we just have to wait and hope it works.