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Aging Infrastructure Challenges Missouri Cities

Infrastructure such as the water ducts serving River des Peres, in southwest St. Louis, is one example of things that could be addressed with increased funding. (Paul Sableman/flickr)
Infrastructure such as the water ducts serving River des Peres, in southwest St. Louis, is one example of things that could be addressed with increased funding. (Paul Sableman/flickr)
June 14, 2018

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Roads, bridges and water systems are part of the backbone of Missouri cities, and the challenge of governments across the state is how to maintain that infrastructure.

It was one of the topics recently discussed at the 86th annual U.S. Conference of Mayors in Boston where St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson attended to share ideas and collect information on how municipalities are confronting the issue.

"Every city, especially old cities – and we are an old city in St. Louis – have infrastructure challenges,” Krewson states. “I mean, it goes to our roads and our bridges, it goes to our transit, the expansion of our light rail system. It goes to our water pipes. It goes to our sewer system."

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave Missouri a C-minus for its infrastructure and cited dams, levees, roads and energy as the areas most in need of improvement.

The engineers’ report recommends improvements to the state's flood management system since there are more than 115,000 miles of streams and rivers in the state and increased transportation funding.

In his State of the Union Address earlier this year, President Donald Trump proposed a $1.5 trillion investment in infrastructure, but according to an interview he did with The Wall Street Journal, he only intends $200 billion of that to come from federal dollars.

Krewson says the uncertainty around infrastructure funding makes it difficult for Missouri cities to be forward thinking.

"It means you're not able to fix things as quickly as you'd like to,” she points out. “It means you're not able to take on expansions like you'd like to.

“And we send our taxes to Washington, all of us do, all of the cities do, and all of our residents do. And so we are always, of course, trying to figure out how to get some of those tax dollars back."

In the past, experts say federal funding typically has covered 80 percent of a transportation project. In recent years, federal funds have covered about half the costs, but that amount could be further reduced if the Trump infrastructure package advances.

That package has not advanced since being proposed in January.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - MO