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New bridge on I-70 in Missouri could be named after Roy Blunt

By Kurt Erickson

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    JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) — A new bridge carrying traffic over the Missouri River could be named after the state’s outgoing U.S. senator.

Legislation will be heard in a Senate committee Tuesday that would name the Interstate 70 span near Rocheport the “Senator Roy D. Blunt Bridge.”

Blunt, a Republican, is retiring when his term ends next year. He is 72.

The measure, sponsored by state Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, calls for the Missouri Department of Transportation to erect signs designating the bridge, with the costs to be paid for by private donations.

Blunt, a Republican, played a significant role in helping to secure funding to replace the heavily trafficked bridge on the busy, transcontinental highway.

The $240 million project will be funded in part by an $81.2 million federal grant, the largest competitive grant ever received by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Plans call for workers to replace the aging bridge with two spans carrying three lanes of east and west traffic over the waterway.

The first new span is expected to open in the late spring of 2023, with the entire project being done by 2024.

In all, an estimated 12.5 million vehicles use the bridge each year. Of those vehicles, more than 3 million are trucks hauling loads to 48 other states, meaning the link is vital in the nation’s transportation system.

The current bridge was built in 1960 and is rated in “poor” condition. Replacing it is among the biggest projects in the pipeline in Missouri, alongside improvements to Interstate 270 in north St. Louis County and the replacement of the Buck O’Neil Bridge in Kansas City.

Blunt’s public service has also netted his name on a new $214 million building at the University of Missouri. The advanced medical technology facility opened in October as the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health Building.

After serving as Missouri Secretary of State from 1985 to 1993, Blunt was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to represent the state’s 7th Congressional District in 1996. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The legislation is Senate Bill 1162.

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