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Missouri Senate reaches compromise on bridge funding



The $300 million bonding would only come if the Missouri Department of Transportation receives enough federal matching grant money to rebuild the Interstate 70 bridge in the mid-Missouri city of Rocheport. (The Trucker file photo)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.  — Missouri senators on Thursday gave initial approval to a compromise plan by spending $50 million upfront and potentially borrowing another $300 million to fix 250 bridges across the state

The $300 million bonding would only come if the Missouri Department of Transportation receives enough federal matching grant money to rebuild the Interstate 70 bridge in the mid-Missouri city of Rocheport.

The deal comes after senators debated overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday over whether to borrow money for transportation work.

Some Republicans complained about taking on debt and interest through bonding. The new proposal reduces borrowing and commits to paying it off in a shorter period of time.

Lake Saint Louis Sen. Bob Onder said he wanted a pay-as-you-go approach, adding that “bonding debt is not my preferred way of dealing with this.”

“But I think we’re perhaps coming to a reasonable compromise on this,” he told colleagues on the Senate flood.

Lawmakers have been split over how to pay to repair roads and bridges after voters in November defeated a proposed 10-cent gas tax hike for transportation.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson in January proposed borrowing about $350 million for bridges that would be paid off over 15 years.

That plan drew bipartisan pushback, both from fiscal conservatives and a bipartisan group of Kansas City and St. Louis lawmakers who argued that not enough bridges from their areas would be repaired with the money. Others pitched asking voters again for a gas-tax increase.

Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith instead proposed putting $100 million in un-earmarked general revenue toward roads and bridges each year for the next several years, which drew praise from members of the Senate’s Conservative Caucus.

But Republican Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz argued that doing so could put the federal matching grant for transportation in jeopardy. He said the state Transportation Department applied for about $172 million.

Even if the state only gets between $60 million and $70 million, Schatz said that would be enough to jumpstart plans to replace the Rocheport bridge.

The bridge is roughly in the middle of the state between St. Louis and Kansas City. Schatz said the bridge is vital to transportation and commerce in the state and was key to the compromise.

“If that’s not in play, I think it might be difficult to get any of those members to say, ‘Hey we want to take on more debt at this time,'” Schatz told reporters Thursday.

Parson in a Thursday statement thanked lawmakers for reaching the deal.

“While our preference would be for an approach that does not put the fate of long overdue bridge repairs in the hands of Washington D.C., we certainly understand that any proposed plan requires compromise to reach a workable solution,” he said.

The measure is expected to come up for a final Senate vote Monday. Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden said he worked with House leaders on the compromise and said he feels “comfortable that we will get to where we need to be to get this thing across the finish line.”

“I’m not sure anybody loves it, from all sides of the spectrum,” Rowden said. “Some folks didn’t want to bond. Some people don’t want to use general revenue. Everybody knows there’s a problem. But it’s one of those things where it is progress.”

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Big rig loaded with mail crashes in Little Rock; tractor ends up on guard rail




Part of a tractor hangs over the Interstate 440 railing after the driver couldn’t decide which ramp to take and crashed. (Courtesy: ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The old saying about those who deliver the mail goes something like this: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

But Sunday some indecision did.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation posted on its social media site that the driver of a tractor-trailer carrying a load of mail couldn’t decide which ramp to take off Interstate 440 Terminal Interchange with Interstate 30 and ended up striking the guard rail.

The tractor separated from the trailer and wound up hanging partially over the bridge railing.

Officials said one of the tractor’s fuel tanks became dislodged and fell onto Interstate 30 below causing an explosion and fire.

The driver was taken to a hospital, but her condition is unknown.

Traffic was delayed on both I-30 and I-440 which is the main thoroughfare between Little Rock and the Bill and Hillary Clinton Newsal Airport.



Colorado DOT kicks off project to install media cable barriers on I-25




DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation kicked off a seven-month project in June that aims to install new median cable barriers along Interstate 25 between Pueblo and Colorado Springs as a safety measure to prevent median crossover crashes.

According to an article in the Journal of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Colorado agency noted in a June 14 statement that it is using a “multi-phased approach” based on vehicle crash history and traffic volumes to specifically locate the new cable median barriers – part of its Whole System – Whole Safety initiative that takes a systematic approach to safety that includes driving behaviors, the built environment, and operations.

“Improving the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving safety conditions for travelers is our main goal,” Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado DOT, said in a statement. “The statewide program’s whole system approach is unique in how it brings together all areas of the driving experience, resulting in improved and enhanced safety for motorists.”

The $3.5 million project – expected to be completed by December – will remove any existing barrier structures and replace it with media cable barrier along with “added offset” from the travel lane and flattened median side slopes.

That will continue to eliminate vehicle cross-over crashes, the agency noted, while additionally reducing nuisance hits as the northbound cable barrier can be removed. The net effect will allow better maintenance access, reduced maintenance costs, better traffic flow, and further enhancing safety, Colorado DOT said.

A 68-page study wrapped up last year by the Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University determined that cable median barriers “significantly” reduce motor vehicle crash fatalities and injuries, though they do lead to an increase in “property-damage only” crashes, according to the collected data examined by the school’s researchers.

That study found that out of the 6,718 median-related crashes it examined over a nine-year period stretching from 2007 to 2015, cable media barrier safety devices reduced fatalities, incapacitating injuries, and non-incapacitating injuries by 68.7, 36.8, and 23.9 percent, respectively.



Love’s opens new facilities in Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania




The Hampshire, Illinois, location is located at 201 Love’s Crossing near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20. (Courtesy: LOVE’S TRAVEL STOPS)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Love’s Travel Stops is now serving customers in three new locations — Bridgeport Charter Township, Michigan; Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; and Hampshire, Illinois.

The Bridgeport Charter Township location at 6560 Dixie Highway (near Interstate 75 and Exit 144) adds 80 new jobs to Saginaw County and 87 truck parking spaces.

The Slippery Rock stop off Exit 105 and I-79, brings 40 jobs and 48 truck parking spaces.

The third location in Hampshire at 201 Love’s Crossing (near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20), has 177 truck parking spaces and brings 80 jobs.

In total, Love’s is adding 312 truck parking spaces for professional drivers.

“These three locations place us in the perfect spots to serve more customers,” said Tom Love, executive chairman and founder of Love’s. “All are along major interstates that are popular for trade routes and leisure travel. We’re proud to add truck parking in areas where our customers need it.”

The travel stops are open 24/7 and offer many amenities.

Bridgeport, Michigan

More than 12,000 square feet of space, Hardee’s restaurant, 87 truck parking spaces, 87 car parking spaces, eight diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, four RV parking spaces, eight showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

Hampshire, Illinois

More than 10,000 square feet of space, Arby’s restaurant, 177 truck parking spaces, 53 car parking spaces, nine diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, three RV parking spaces, seven showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

More than 10,000 square feet of space, Subway restaurant, 48 truck parking spaces, 60 car parking spaces, seven diesel bays, Love’s Truck Tire Care center, two RV parking spaces, six showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

In honor of the grand opening, Love’s will host ribbon cuttings and donate $2,000 to the Bridgeport Historical Society, Northern Butler County Feed My Sheep Food Cupboard in Slippery Rock and Hampshire High School.








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