infrastructure | St. Louis Public Radio


Students walk through the campus of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in the Spring of 2017.

EDWARDSVILLE — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker released the first 10% of $105 million in funding for a new health sciences building on the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus Thursday.

The initial $10.5 million pays for the planning and design of the new building, which will house nursing, pharmacy, public health, social work and the many other health science programs at the university. 

The city of St. Louis alone contains roughly 2,000 miles worth of sidewalks, which vary widely in design and overall condition.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In an age of crumbling infrastructure across the U.S., sidewalks have been no exception to the pattern of decay. The city of St. Louis alone is home to roughly 2,000 miles worth of sidewalks, and both the physical condition and suitability of those streetside pathways vary widely.

David Newburger, St. Louis’ commissioner on the disabled, thinks about sidewalks quite a bit. He notes that he’s old enough to remember when curb cuts — sloped curb faces that are particularly critical for someone using a wheelchair — were few and far between. These days, Newburger says, a lot of effort goes into the design of new sidewalks to ensure that they are safe and passable for everyone, including pedestrians with disabilities.

The Route J bridge over Grassy Creek in Lewis County is one of 40 rural bridges in northern Missouri that will be replaced over the next five years thanks to a $21 million federal grant.
Google Maps | Screenshot

Missouri has received another $21 million in federal funding to repair the state’s bridges.

Missouri was one of just 25 states eligible for the grants, which come from the Competitive Highway Bridge Program. The money will allow the Missouri Department of Transportation to replace 40 bridges on state highways north of Interstate 70.

From left, Kea Wilson and Scott Ogilvie joined Tuesday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Every city has its nightmare intersections, and many residents could likely cite a personal nemesis or two. In the St. Louis area, the crossroads of North Grand Boulevard and Interstate 64 in Grand Center, and Eager and Hanley in Brentwood, may well come to mind among other notoriously tricky traffic spots.

Frequently stressful for drivers and non-drivers alike, these sections of public infrastructure can seem like a permanent fixture of civic life, along with the honking, confusion and rage they trigger. But change can sometimes happen.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske took a closer look at some of the region’s worst intersections – and discussed how planners work to address trouble spots in an age of crumbling infrastructure across the U.S. The conversation also touched on what residents can do to address problematic roads and contribute to smoother, safer streets for all.

Missouri S&T researchers will look at ways to improve the life of roads, like this section of I-44 in Rolla
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 40 million motorists are expected to hit the road in the U.S. this holiday weekend, and many of them will encounter highways that are cracked or littered with potholes.

Missouri University of Science and Technology is part of an effort to make those roads last longer. 

Illinois lawmakers say they’re ready to move ahead with a major road construction program. It would mean tax and fee increases on gasoline, license plates and driver’s licenses.

Missouri S&T's Mark Bookout stands near one of the drones being tested to help inspect and repair bridges.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri University of Science and Technology could be part of the solution to the state’s bridge-maintenance problem.

The state is behind on its maintenance and is working with Missouri S&T on robots to make it easier to inspect and repair bridges.

Experts say billions in a multi-year plan won't go far enough to address infrastructure repairs and upkeep.

The 128-year-old Merchants Bridge is receiving a $172-million renovation. July 11, 2018.
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

Private railroad companies will rebuild a 128-year-old railroad bridge that spans the Mississippi River north of downtown St. Louis despite failing to secure federal funding that would help pay for the project.

Gov. Mike Parson poses with organizers of the Best in Midwest and Talent for Tomorrow Summit on June 27 2018, where infrastructure and workforce development were top of the agenda.
Melody Walker | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson outlined two priorities to drive the state’s economy during an appearance in St. Louis on Wednesday: workforce development and infrastructure.

The governor spoke at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center following an all-day summit convened to focus on the two issues. Parson urged the gathering of business and education officials from around the state to work together to prepare tomorrow’s workforce and to vote in November.

I-64 W traffic highway
Paul Sableman | Flickr

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2019 could bring big infrastructure changes to Missouri, but local engineering and commerce experts say it could be hard for the state to compete for federal dollars.

The budget promises to “generate $1 trillion in infrastructure investment” by dedicating $200 billion over 10 years to projects like improving roads, expanding internet access in rural areas, and developing creative approaches to transit, energy, water and building. Of that, $100 billion would be awarded as competitive grants to states and local governments who pursue projects “demonstrating innovative approaches” to infrastructure.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 21, 2013 - WASHINGTON – For Mayor Jo Anne Smiley of Clarksville, Mo., clean water is key, given that the Mississippi River provides drinking water to 18 million Americans.

For Alton, Ill., Mayor Tom Hoechst, the emphasis is on efforts to help farmers to prevent erosion that leads to sediment buildups that require river dredging. And, of course, the need for more federal investment in river locks and dams.

Commentary: Implications of a decaying infrastructure

Dec 23, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 23, 2011 - If your job is unrelated and your car axle avoids potholes, infrastructure is boring. Wall Street occupiers don't pontificate about sewer reconstruction. Tea party acolytes are agnostic regarding bridge safety regulations. Politicians somnambulate through "rebuild the infrastructure" rituals as they segue to sexier orations.

Commentary: Dead sharks on Labor Day

Sep 8, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 8, 2011 - Perhaps fittingly, the August jobs report was released on the Friday before Labor Day weekend. While those of us who are still employed prepared for a three-day respite from toil, we learned in round numbers how many jobs the U.S. economy added in the previous month. The figure cited was round indeed: zero.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 26, 2011 - No one knows better than Missourians about the importance of physical infrastructure to the economic health and well-being of a state. We are centrally located in nearly the exact middle of the country. The state is within 600 miles of over half the manufacturing plants in the United States. However, Missouri, just like the rest of the country, is suffering from years of infrastructure neglect and severe underinvestment.

Cheers, jeers mark stimulus plan's second birthday

Feb 17, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 17, 2011 - WASHINGTON - Did it save the nation from economic collapse, or did it run up a spending tab so big that it will take decades to pay the bill?

Two years after President Barack Obama signed the economic stimulus bill -- the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- into law, Republicans and Democrats viewed the $816 billion plan through completely different lenses.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 16, 2011 - WASHINGTON - Fearing that the budget-cutting wave in Congress might damage federal support for levee improvements, a bipartisan group of Illinois lawmakers is urging the White House to include levees in the proposed infrastructure plans.

"Protecting our communities from floods is a bipartisan issue, and we are working together in Illinois to address the substantial levee repair and maintenance needs our state faces," the legislators wrote to President Barack Obama, a fellow Illinoisan.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 10, 2010 - Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Robin Carnahan is breaking with the White House on another issue, by opposing President Barack Obama's proposal to spend $50 billion on infrastructure projects.

She also launched Friday another negative ad against her Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, who spent the day traveling around rural parts of the state with Missouri Farm Bureau President Charlie Kruse.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2008 - What do MetroLink, a child-care facility in Wellston and the Danforth Plant Science Center have in common?

They are all -- in some form or other -- on St. Louis County's "wish list" for President-elect Barack Obama's national economic recovery program.

This article first appeared in th St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2008 - Christmas might come early in 2009 -- or at least that's what local and state government officials are hoping, and planning, for.

Many of them have been busy putting together what St. Louis County Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls laughingly called a "Christmas wish list," a compilation of projects they hope they can get funded from the federal recovery program.