St. Louis Public Radio News
5:13 pm
Fri February 26, 2010

Stalled jobs bill forces bid delays in Missouri

St. Louis – The ongoing fight over a jobs bill in Congress has forced the Missouri Department of Transportation to delay bidding on road projects for a month - and the delays could get worse.

The U.S. Senate last week overwhelmingly approved a $15 billion job creation bill earlier this week. But it's much smaller than the $154 billion measure the House signed off on in December, and that's aroused vicious opposition from some members of the House Democratic caucus.

The Senate measure includes a temporary fix for the federal high trust fund. Without that, said Missouri Department of Transportation district engineer Ed Hassinger, the state loses $22 million a month in federal highway funding.

That forced the agency on Friday to delay February bid openings by a month. If an agreement isn't reached by Monday, Hassinger said, those losses become permanent and delays could reach six months.

"It'll be a lot of projects that are going to maintain existing infrastructure, keep our roads in good condition," Hassinger said, including the resurfacing and restriping of Interstate 70 and several bridge replacement projects. The remaining phase of the Page Avenue extension could also be at risk.

But Hassinger says MoDOT's biggest project, the $670 million Mississippi River Bridge, will not face delays. Work will start on the new span next week.