I-70 groundbreaking begins $2.8 billion expansion to 6 lanes across Missouri

(The Center Square) – As campaigning escalates before Missouri’s August primary election, Republican Gov. Mike Parson asked citizens on Thursday to look away for a moment.

With I-70 in Columbia as a backdrop, Parson said the ceremonial groundbreaking to begin the $2.8 billion expansion of the highway to six lanes across the state displayed good government.

“It affects everybody,” Parson said as he was joined by current and former local, federal and state legislators and members of the Missouri Department of Transportation. “Take politics aside for just a second. Infrastructure is not a Democrat or Republican issue whatsoever. It’s just about making the state better for people.”

A third lane in each direction will be built on approximately 200 miles of I-70 from Blue Springs, west of Kansas City, to Wentzville, on the edge of the St. Louis metropolitan area. The funding was part of the fiscal year 2024 state budget.

The first project will improve a stretch from Columbia in central Missouri eastward to Kingdom City. The $405 million project is a fixed-cost contract with Millstone Weber, the design-build contractor. All three lanes will be rebuilt in each direction along with interchanges on Route 63 and 54. The completion date is 2027.

“This is a change Columbia has needed for a generation” Rep. David Tyson Smith, D-Columbia, posted on social media. “And we will finally fix the 70/63 connector. Long overdue.”

Parson said the I-70 expansion was a six-year effort. He highlighted annual funding for the Department of Transportation increased from $2.5 billion to $15 billion during his tenure.

“When I first became governor, I came at a very difficult time in our state,” said Parson, who succeeded Eric Greitens after he resigned amidst allegations of sexual misconduct and campaign finance violations. “But I knew the state had to continue on and I knew infrastructure had to be a part of my plan.”

The second phase of the project will be improvements in Warren and St. Charles County.

“I-70 has been talked about for decades and decades,” Parson said. “And all of us here today are going to get to see a dream (become) a reality. And for all of us, for our future generations, the economic impact and the lives this will save will be a model for the nation.”

Parson predicted the entire project would be complete within seven to 10 years.

“Adding that third lane will be doing a lot of good for the citizens of Missouri, for the businesses and for the safety, mobility and reliability of the I-70 corridor,” said Eric Kopinski, the director of the Improve I-70 project. “MoDOT is thrilled for this day.”

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