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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

BRO program future remains uncertain, but local bridge projects proceed

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The bridge at Wilton Springs as seen in July 2012. The bridge, which is slated for replacement, was closed in 2007 because of deterioration of the deck.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
Preliminary work continues on a rural Saline County bridge project, but the future of a state bridge funding program remains uncertain, according to county officials.

Presiding Commissioner Tom Stallings reported Tuesday, Jan. 15, on a meeting in Concordia last week that commissioners had hoped would shed light on a MoDOT proposal to rearrange the flow of money from a federal bridge repair and replacement program.

"I don't think we learned much that we didn't already know," Stallings said, noting that questions still remain about the likely consequences of MoDOT's proposal, which would shift BRO program funding to regional planning commissions rather than directly to counties.

Last week, commissioners discussed their concern that adding a new layer of bureaucracy to the system would have a negative impact on local funding and control.

MoDOT's reason for suggesting the change is a fear that uncommitted funds in a number of Missouri counties will result in a reduction in federal funding for the program, and using regional planning commissions to manage funding would alleviate that problem.

Saline County is using its bridge funding as fast as it can, commissioners said.

One example is the bridge at Wilton Springs, which has been closed since 2007 and is slated for replacement.

Southern District Commissioner Monte Fenner reported that engineering work is proceeding for that project and that core samples will be taken next week.

Stallings noted that although the project is moving along, it apparently does not count as a commitment of BRO funds until the construction contract is approved.

Commissioners hope to learn more about MoDOT's proposal at a meeting of Missouri county commissioners in early February.

Fenner also reported that the bridge project on Golden Avenue in the Blosser area could be completed in about the next 10 days, if all goes as planned.

Road and Bridge Supervisor Justin Cowart reported that Quartz Avenue could be closed Monday, Jan. 21, if a culvert arrives as expected on Friday. The culvert replacement project will take place southeast of Gilliam and just west of Saline City.

Cowart said the project would also depend on weather conditions.

In other business, the commission approved three liquor licenses for C&R Markets in Slater and a payment of $60.70 to County Collector Grace Miles as reimbursement for processing city tourism tax receipts.

The commission also approved a request from County Clerk Debbie Russell to destroy five old computer towers from the former human resources office. Russell reported the machines are outdated.

Contact Eric Crump at ecrump@marshallnews.com

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