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MODOT plans for 3 to 8 hour back-ups on I-70

State transportation officials will hold an informational meeting Thursday afternoon in mid-Missouri’s Rocheport about the upcoming massive I-70 bridge rehabilitation project.

Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) project manager Melissa Wilbers says three to eight-hour backups are possible when the project starts in the spring.

“And we have actually seen those types of delays in our inspection that we had done earlier this year,” Wilbers says.

Wilbers says there were nine-mile backups on the bridge this summer, when MoDOT did expansion joint replacement work.

MoDOT says the 59-year-old Rocheport bridge is in poor condition.

Wilbers says the current plan is to begin construction in the spring, with an expected completion date in late 2020. She says the planned $18 million rehabilitation will extend the bridge’s life for another 10 to 15 years.

“Driving surface sealing, expansion joint replacement, some painting, structural steel repairs and some substructure repairs as well,” says Wilbers.

Meantime, MoDOT says more than 12 million vehicles cross that bridge annually, including three million trucks. Wilbers says MoDOT is still hopeful of receiving a $176 million federal grant.

“We applied for the federal INFRA grant in March earlier this year, and we are waiting on word from the federal government whether we are going to receive those funds or not,” Wilbers says.

INFRA stands for a federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant.

If the grant goes through, Wilbers says MoDOT would build a new bridge instead of the rehabilitation project, which means the old bridge would be used while a new one is built.

That would prevent the massive I-70 backups.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, (R-Sullivan), says he’s hopeful about the grant. Schatz says U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt is working to obtain the federal grant funding.

Missourians rejected a proposed ten-cent gasoline tax increase in November. Missouri’s 17-cent gasoline tax has remained the same since 1996.