191108_local_governor

Gov. Mike Parson spent time in rural Andrew County on Thursday afternoon to review plans for the rehabilitation of two bridges along Interstate 29 that span Missouri Route T near Amazonia, Missouri.

AMAZONIA, Mo. — Missouri’s governor is directly linking the success of the state’s bridge projects to a robust economy.

Gov. Mike Parson delivered that credo Thursday afternoon while paying a visit to rural Andrew County. It was part of a statewide tour Parson is taking to view all manner of bridge projects, which he says display an effective partnership among his office, lawmakers and the Missouri Department of Transportation. His $50 million Focus on Bridges program was passed by the Missouri General Assembly earlier this year.

“It’s good we’re doing this,” the governor said while being briefed by MoDOT officials on plans to rehabilitate two side-by-side bridges on Interstate 29. “Thank goodness we put a little money in the budget. ... That was a good move.”

The two existing 54-year-old bridges on I-29 cross over Missouri Route T just outside Amazonia, Missouri. The 105-foot structures were rehabilitated in 1991 and carry more than 20,000 vehicles daily, with 35 percent of that total in truck traffic. According to MoDOT, a bypass of the bridges would entail an 11-mile detour. A Nov. 15 bid letting is scheduled for the project, with the price tag estimated at $1 million.

Parson said the bridges represent part of a vital link in the busy I-29 corridor, providing the fuel for Missouri’s economic engine.

“None of that happens if you don’t have infrastructure in place,” he said, also referring to efforts to shore up the state’s workforce development initiatives.

Besides MoDOT and legislators, Parson’s thanks also were extended to the Andrew County Commission for participating on the front line of improving local bridges.

“I think this is important to move our state forward,” the governor added.

More than typical maintenance impacts the progress of major construction, he said.

“We’ve got to stay ahead of that game,” said Parson of the routine bridge repairs. “And that’s why we’re putting the emphasis on that.”

Rep. Sheila Solon, R-St. Joseph, spoke ahead of the governor. Her district includes Andrew County.

“These bridges are essential for our local economy,” she said.

Patrick McKenna, who serves as MoDOT’s director, praised Parson.

“All over the state, the governor’s leadership is paying dividends,” he said, adding Parson put in late hours with legislators to strategize on bridges. “Missouri’s on a roll.”

Before he left, Parson presented a special coin to MoDOT employee Jason Browning of Savannah that recognizes his efforts on behalf of the agency and state.

Ray Scherer can be reached

at ray.scherer@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.