At a time when national infrastructure upkeep is too often overlooked, an important bit nearby may get attention. I refer to the I-70 bridge across the Missouri River near Rocheport that may be in for total replacement rather than mere rehabilitation.

The advantages of replacement have been documented over recent months, usually focused on avoiding serious traffic backups clogging the area, but the potential problems posed by the old bridge seem much more widespread. If a single span is more strategically located nationally than the Rocheport bridge, where is it? I-70 links much of the nation and no single potential chokepoint seems as vital. I-70 is like an artery. Losing the bridge would act like a clot stopping the flow.

I know. There’s a bit of hyperbole here, but not much. The keepers of our national highway infrastructure surely can look at a map and see the importance of this project. No doubt they have done this and have been primarily concerned with funding, how to put the Rocheport project high among other similarly important projects threatening national traffic.

Missouri highway planners no doubt kicked up dust, stressing the need for federal funding to augment limited state resources. As the dust settled, the state anted up a credible amount and localities pitched in pittances showing real commitments relative to their abilities. Gaining this political buy-in had some effect, as major funding officials attested, and officials now say they think the balance can be obtained to do the project.

I expect by now they know the money will be gathered but will keep expectations low until the end when a huge “whew” of relief can be generated.

This really is a big deal, an integral part of the I-70 upgrading under discussion for so long. How could such a project be done without assuring the span across the Missouri River is up to standard for the entire route? I’m no highway engineer, but this bridge replacement is a no-brainer.


Wisdom comes to us when it no longer can do any good.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez