JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Nearly $9 billion dollars is in the federal infrastructure bill for Missouri with most of it going towards improving roads and bridges.
In recent years, the American Society of Civil Engineers has given the state a C- grade on its infrastructure report card. Those bad roads are costing drivers roughly $743 a year, according to the White House. Under the plan, $6.5 billion will be used for highway apportioned programs and $484 million for bridge replacement and repairs.
Within the Show-Me State, there are nearly 34,000 miles of roads and roughly 10,000 bridges maintained by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
“It’s one of the largest numbers of major bridges of any state in the entire nation,” MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said. “A lot of those were built in the 1930s, 1950s, and 60s.”
McKenna said MoDOT has already identified more than a billion dollars of unfunded needs in the state. Currently, three big projects going on are the Buck O’Neil Bridge in the Kansas City area, closing $250 million, replacing the Rocheport I-70 bridge also costing $250 million and the north I-270 loop in St. Louis that’s costing about $278 million dollars for a 14-mile project.
“If we’re just doing paving on the interstate, that costs upwards of $200,000 dollars a mile to pave, to repave,” McKenna said. “Some of the projects take years to plan from an environmental impact, from a property impact, from a utility impact and then you have to design them, so there is some weed time to the projects and to get to that point of construction, you have to be committing your planning process several years in advance.”
He said without lawmakers increasing the gas tax by 12.5 cents over the next five years, Missouri wouldn’t be receiving $7 billion.
“We would have been challenged to match the federal funds to bring the state’s share of those federal dollars to bring that together and pull down all of the federal resources had that increase in revenue not been created,” McKenna said.
The gas tax had not been increased in more than 20 years. The first hike went into effect in October, raising the tax by 2.5 cents, which will happen annually over the next five years.
“That’s a critical resource to be able to pull all the federal dollars in and to take full advantage of the federal bill,” McKenna said.
Another part of the infrastructure bill, nearly $100 million dollars will be sent to the state for electric vehicle chargers.
“It’s really near that you’ll be able to see these chargers everywhere you go,” the business development manager for Ameren Missouri Bryan Shannon said.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports around 6,740 Missourians drive electric vehicles, with that number expected to rise.
“It’s like paying a dollar per gallon of gasoline, so it’s less than half of what you pay at the pump, but I think having more charging available across the state helps drivers consider an electric vehicle for their next car,” Shannon said.
Ameren Missouri began installing discounted chargers for businesses and municipalities last year through their Ameren’s Charge Ahead Program. Earlier this month, the company said it reached a goal of distributing $1 million in incentives to help local businesses.
“Businesses are able to save up to half on the total cost to install these charging stations and be able to potentially reinvest these savings back into their business,” Shannon said.
The company’s goal is to give out $5 million more incentives by the end of 2022. Shannon said on average, most installations cost $7,000, which ends up costing the business $3,5000.
Ameren Missouri offers two different types of chargers for businesses to use, a Level 2 port which Shannon said means 25 miles of range per hour of charge, and Level 3, the fastest way to charge an electric vehicle up to 80% to help long distant travel in up to 30 minutes.
Their program is on top of the millions coming to Missouri to create more charging stations across the state and country.
“Really exciting that electric vehicles and the infrastructure to support them is being discussed at the highest levels,” Shannon said. “I think it will really help decrease range anxiety for folks consider an EV [electric vehicle] for their next car.”
Also under the plan, Missouri will collect roughly $100 million to provide internet access to more than 300,000 Missourians. The state will also receive $866 million over five years to improve water infrastructure across the state to ensure safe, clean drinking water.