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‘Welcome to Missouri’ billboard off I-35 is anything but welcoming, says Missouri has worst bridges and roads in America

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A group of heavy-construction workers in Kansas City leased a billboard off I-35 and Southwest Trafficway to send a message to Missouri's governor about one of the state's most an expensive and potentially dangerous problems: Our roads and bridges.

The billboard reads like a welcome sign to visitors, but says: 'Welcome to Missouri- Home of some of America's most outdated roads and bridges.'

At the bottom, it says 'Hello, Gov. Greitens?'

The billboard was paid for by a group called 'Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City.'

The association's executive director says the decision to rent the billboard was an easy one because the state is nearly two billion dollars behind in bridge and road repairs.

"You can't ignore your way out of this problem. The roads and bridges are only going to get worse until we figure out a way to address the needs of our citizens," Bridgette Williams, executive director said. "We're hopeful that it catches their attention, not only just to catch their attention but actually encourages them to do something, to figure out some funding mechanism for the highway program."

The Heavy Constructors Association plans to lease at least seven more billboards between Kansas City and Jefferson City with a similar message.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), 60 percent of Missouri's bridges are beyond their original intended life of 50 years. There are currently 883 bridges that have been rated 'poor' by the Federal Highway Administration. Each year, about 100 more bridges fall into the 'poor' category, while about 90 are fixed or replaced each year.  MoDOT is responsible for maintaining almost 10,400 bridges in the state system.

'We have the nation's 7th largest system of roads and bridges but our funding comes in at 47th in the nation. We can only stretch our dollars so far, and must prioritize our work,' MoDOT says on its website.

On the HCA's website, the Heavy Constructors Association says its membership consists of approximately 150 member companies comprised of general contractors, specialty contractors, major suppliers, suppliers and affiliate members. 'The HCA actively participates in all aspects of the heavy construction industry in both Kansas and Missouri.'

MoDOT explains its bridge rating system:
Bridges are rated on a nine-point scale, with 9 being a new bridge and 2 being a closed bridge. Missouri’s poor bridges carry a rating of 4 or less.
9 – Excellent
8 – Very Good
7 – Good
6 – Satisfactory
5 – Fair
4 – Poor
3 – Serious
2 – Critical/Closed
1 – Imminent Failure
0 - Failed

Condition Ratings
According to the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS), condition ratings are used to describe an existing bridge or culvert compared with its condition if it were new. The ratings are based on the materials, physical condition of the deck (riding surface), the superstructure (supports immediately beneath the driving surface) and the substructures (foundation and supporting posts and piers). General condition ratings range from 0 (failed condition) to 9 (excellent).

Through periodic safety inspections, data is collected on the condition of the primary components of a structure. Condition ratings, based on a scale of 0-9, are collected for the following components of a bridge. A condition rating of 4 or less on one of the following item classifies a bridge as structurally deficient.

· The bridge deck, including the wearing surface
· The superstructure, including all primary load-carrying members and connections
· The substructure, considering the abutments and all piers