Missouri has an aging highway network, overburdened bridges, strained ports and waterways, climate impacts, and supply chain and transit challenges. But federal infrastructure investment is helping the “Show Me State” embrace a strong future.
Recently, the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition interviewed American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2023 President-Elect Marsia “Marsie” Geldert-Murphey (also a Missouri resident) to discuss Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) money flowing to Missouri.
The list encompasses $278 million for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair flood damage along the Missouri River and several lakes, and $48 million to support public transportation. $26.3 million has also been provided for the Fort Leonard Wood Waynesville-St. Robert Regional Airport, the Chester Bridge over the Mississippi River in Perry County, and the I-70\U.S. 63 Interchange in Boone County.
Geldert-Murphey shapes the big picture of what America is facing by talking about individual projects, and provides insight that supports a macro perspective.
The work of civil engineers, which includes environmental mitigation, fostering economic growth and ensuring resiliency, centers on benefitting society but also advancing technologies. Unlike decades ago, spatial orientation is an industry focus, and 3D drawings can be incorporated into the capabilities of construction gear and equipment.
Changes for MissouriAirport expansion increases business opportunities; replacing the Chester Bridge will grow the agricultural industry; and interchange projects improve functionality for the traveling public. But in Missouri, addressing climate and storm impacts are also taking center stage.Geldert-Murphey says Missouri has been hit hard by several consecutive years of extremely high flows in the rivers and damage to structures has been significant. Making repairs along the stretch of the river, from Nebraska to St. Louis, is critically important.
“When you’re talking about the Missouri River, and the Mississippi River, and the flow of goods and supply chain that we’ve been suffering from even recently, all of this commercial navigation that we support through/in this system also provides indirect benefits to all the other industrial, agricultural and economic interests not only within Missouri but outside of Missouri.”
Pointing to federal funding for transit, Geldert-Murphey says it’s crucial to look at public transportation’s benefits and impacts. This entails health equity and reducing traffic accidents and pollution, and connecting people to jobs, food and family, along with access for the elderly. But underfunding, she adds, has led to labor shortages in the transit arena.She says transit spending per capita in Missouri was low, but is increasing. She explains that to transport 156,000 daily riders in Missouri (requiring 2,000 vehicles to be operated by 4,500 workers) the indirect and direct impact of transit in Missouri is $3.6 billion. That’s a seven to one return-on-investment (ROI) for transit spending.
Whether it’s prioritizing transit or better ports or modern bridges, Geldert-Murphey is looking for infrastructure to spur real change.“You know, we’ve been in a react mode when it comes to transportation for a very, very long time. What this bill is going to allow us to do is not only meet the needs that have been overlooked for so very long — not only in Missouri — but throughout the country,” she emphasizes.
ASCE is a member of ATM.