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A wish list and a change: Missouri, Kansas ready for road, bridge investments

MoDOT launching 'Pothole Patrol' in March to fix the pesky problems that can leave you in the hole
Posted at 5:41 PM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 19:22:04-05

MERRIAM, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly says her state is ready for what it hopes will be an influx of infrastructure investments.

“We've got shovel-ready projects now,” she said during a Monday media availability. “We'll be able to jump on those funds that are coming in from the federal government.”

Kelly recalled that was not the case during the Great Recession, when she said the state lost out on some federal money.

On the other side of the state line, Missouri Department of Transportation officials pointed to a wish list called “Missouri’s High Priority Unfunded Needs.”

It identifies transportation needs each year for 10 years, totaling $8.25 billion.

The most recent White House background documents break down the plan’s impact for both Missouri and Kansas.

The August report underscores the states’ infrastructure needs. It detailed each Missouri driver averaged spending $743 per year in costs because of driving roads in need of repair. Kansas’ report said the average driver spends $509.

Those fact sheets also say Missouri has 2,190 bridges and at least 7,576 miles of highway in poor condition. Kansas has 1,321 bridges and 1,995 miles of highway in poor condition, according to the report.

The American Society of Civil Engineers put out a report card for each state’s infrastructure. Kansas earned a C. Missouri got a C-.

"I travel on some pretty bad roads,” said Alan Heriford, owner of Johnson County Automotive. “I've personally hit some potholes that I'd say would be an F.”

Heriford said bad roads and potholes can lead to a lot of car problems - and he’s the one who delivers the cost estimates to get those problems fixed.

“The worst thing about my job is I give people bad news about money just to make things like they were before,” he said.

He’s not holding his breath, mainly because of the Midwest’s harsh weather.

“I'm not really confident that we're going to see perfect roads anytime too soon,” he said.