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by Patty Cheffey
Marion County will no longer have their own appropriation to spend on bridge replacement under the new regulations of the state’s BRO bridge replacement program.
According to Lori Smith, transportation planner for MoDOT, under the new program, which changed June 13, there will be no individual appropriations for counties, but instead, all funds will be combined district wide.
Counties will then be able to submit up to three bridges for replacement and a committee, which will include commissioners, will review all applications and select which bridges will be replaced.
Counties will have a list of eligible bridges to select from, based on the deficient bridges list they receive from MoDOT.
Counties have until July 22 to submit their application for their three bridges. The committee will review them from July 25 through Sept. 2 and make their selections.
Under the old BRO program, counties paid 20 percent and the state paid 80 percent. With the new Bridge Formula Program, there will be no cost to the county.
Currently Marion County has $658,000 in soft match credit, but unlike in the past when the county sold soft match for hard match funds, they would not have to do that under the new program.
During their meeting last week, the commissioners decided to turn the issue over to Mike Schaefer, county highway engineer, and Stacy Richards, with the highway department to review and make a recommendation on which bridges should be submitted for consideration.
The commissioners also asked Smith if MoDOT would approved the Soybean Transportation Coalition soybean grant pre-fabricated/pre-engineered bridges.
While she was going to have to check on that, the commissioners noted that if they are approved by MoDOT, that gave them an alternative to having go through the entire process of building a bridge.