Missouri is a state well known for it’s barbeque, football, brewing… and it’s worn out roads. With most of Missouri roads being rural, they are often left unattended for years at a time with little to no maintenance, allowing for weathering and erosion to pockmark the road ways with potholes. The Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation (MCTI) has a plan to make the roadways more driver friendly and has partnered with Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) to renovate the state's infrastructure. The new program will be centered in the Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT) Jefferson City lab as well as labs across the four University of Missouri (UM) system campuses across the state, with the primary focus being state road work.
Exactly how bad are Missouri’s roads? According to rankings from US News, Missouri is rated as the 25th best state for infrastructure as a whole, but only 36th for transportation (which includes road availability, road conditions, railways, and any other forms of public transportation). MoDOT acknowledges that the bridges in Missouri are, on average, forty-eight years old. The intended lifespan of some of these bridges is only fifty years. An estimated 60% of Missouri’s roughly 10,400 bridges are in use past their original intended lifespan. Furthermore, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded the United States on the quality of their infrastructure in 2017 and found the U.S. infrastructure at that time to only be worthy of a D+ ranking. This ranks United States infrastructure below a large chunk of the developed worlds quality of infrastructure.
It should be noted that even with these statistics, the roads people drive on are still deemed safe by professionals. Every bridge is inspected at least twice a year for structural integrity and more often when known issues exist. The bridges have weight limits in place to prevent excessive traffic on more damaged bridges. MoDOT ensures infrastructure is in accordance with the US Department of Transportation’s guidelines.
In attempts to remedy degraded infrastructure, the MCTI was formed on December 17th, 2019 in Jefferson City, Missouri and will be a conjoined effort between the UM system schools and MoDOT. Missouri S&T is expected to primarily provide research for the program with Dr. John Myers serving as deputy director and Missouri University’s Dr. Bill Buttlar serving as the program director for the first three years. The MCTI also has representatives from the University of Missouri - Kansas City and the University of Missouri St. Louis serving as cabinet members.
One of the first achievements of the MCTI will be the construction of the Clayco Advanced Construction and Materials Laboratory (ACML) on Missouri S&T’s campus. The new lab will combine pre-existing functions of the High-Bay Structures Laboratory with materials and construction method research. Other MCTI projects can be found on the MoDOT website. The projects are split into 7 regions and below each region is an exact list of all the roads on the construction agenda and their current progress. The website includes an in depth travelers section that includes road safety tips as well as links to Kansas City scout - which lists current road conditions for the Kansas City area - and Ozark Traffic, which does the same for the Ozarks.