Gov. Parson says completion of $278M interstate project replaces ‘talk’

(The Center Square) – Completion of a $278 million rebuild of Interstate 270 in North St. Louis County is being described as transformational for the region and puts Missouri on track to complete three major projects in a year.

“All we ever did was talk about it and we never completed them,” Republican Gov. Mike Parson said Tuesday, referring to the Rocheport Interstate 70 bridge over the Missouri River between Cooper and Boone counties and the Buck O’Neil Bridge for U.S. 169 over the Missouri River in Kansas City. “All of them will be completed within the next year. And then we’re going to have a project where we hook them all together called I-70 [expansion] and make that six lanes across the state of Missouri.”

Parson was joined by several elected officials and Patrick McKenna, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, for a ribbon cutting at the Interstate 270 site on Tuesday. When he became governor after Eric Greitens resigned in 2018, Parson focused on infrastructure with an emphasis on rebuilding bridges throughout the state.

The I-270 project included 18 new bridges. It includes 19 miles of new concrete pavement and 42 lane miles of re-paved asphalt.

“I remember the nets under the bridges catching falling concrete from years of decay from an inability to fund major projects like this,” McKenna said. “This project, in itself, is a turning point for this region.”

McKenna said turning points for infrastructure are marked by upward trends instead of declines.

“I’d say the biggest turning point was when Mike Parson became governor and made this a priority,” McKenna said. “Infrastructure and workforce were his two main priorities and he maintained that dedication throughout his entire term.”

Teamwork and collaboration with local municipalities, contractors, subcontractors and others was emphasized by several speaking at the event, including praising the patience of residents enduring the four-year construction project.

“For those of us who live here, this is a tremendous project and I think the governor pointed out some really important facts in that this wasn’t done by ourselves,” Sen. Brian Williams, D-University City, said. “A team of people came together and really made it work.”

The awarding of contracts for the $2.8 billion I-70 expansion will start to be awarded during the first quarter of 2024.

“It’s only when we finish projects that the taxpayers of Missouri get the benefit of them,” McKenna said. “Talking about them, planning them and working on the financing just doesn’t do the job. It’s when we get them open, when the taxpayers who fund them can actually gain the benefit that it makes all the difference.”

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