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(LISTEN): Strong bipartisan delegation of Missouri lawmakers at Columbia’s I-70 ceremony

(LISTEN): Strong bipartisan delegation of Missouri lawmakers at Columbia’s I-70 ceremony

Missouri’s governor was joined by state Department of Transportation (MoDOT) employees at Thursday’s I-70 groundbreaking ceremony in Columbia (June 14, 2024 photo courtesy of Governor Parson’s Flickr page)

Missouri’s governor says the state’s $2.8 billion I-70 expansion and improvement plan will be a model for the nation.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held in scorching heat Thursday outside Columbia’s Drury Plaza hotel. Governor Mike Parson tells the audience that I-70 improvements have been talked about for decades.

“And for all of us, for our future generations for our state the economic impact, the lives this will save, and will be the model for the nation I-70 will be for our country to be able to see what Missouri has done and what we can do by working together,” Parson says.

The governor signed bipartisan legislation in August providing $2.8 billion to reconstruct and expand I-70 to six lanes from Blue Springs to Wentzville. Most of those are state dollars.

Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe, several council members and city manager De’Carlon Seewood attended the ceremony for the $405-million I-70 project between Columbia and Kingdom City. Mr. Seewood tells 939 the Eagle that it’s exciting:

“And when you talk about economic development, you talk about growth in our community, the fact that we’re going to have three lanes on both sides of the highway (I-70), it’s impactful. And to say that Columbia is the beginning of the project and the end of the project says a lot about where we’re at in the state. It’s an exciting start and I’m excited to see exactly what the future means for our city,” says Mr. Seewood.

Numerous state lawmakers in both parties joined the governor at the event. They include State Reps. Cheri Toalson Reisch (R-Hallsville) and Kent Haden (R-Mexico), along with State Reps. David Tyson Smith, Doug Mann and Adrian Plank (D-Columbia). Representative Mann tells 939 the Eagle that it’s bipartisan and emphasizes it will help his district and the entire state:

“Because this is something that helps all Missourians. This is going to make the lives of all Missourians better. This is going to improve the economy for all Missourians, and overall this is going to make Missouri stronger,” Representative Mann says.

State Rep. Adrian Plank (D-Columbia) also supported the I-70 plan and joined the governor. Representative Plank tells 939 the Eagle that the project will also help small mid-Missouri towns:

“We can’t just say this is just for Columbia, because this will bring more infrastructure for like Sturgeon and Harrisburg and Rocheport. That’s going to make them grow too. So with this infrastructure investment will come more and more infrastructure investment. And I think that’s great for all of us,” Plank says.

The state Department of Transportation (MoDOT) plans to add an additional lane to I-70 between the Highway 63 connector in Columbia and Highway 54 in Kingdom City. The work will begin after the Fourth of July.

As for the governor, he says you’ll see state Department of Transportation (MoDOT) crews and contract employees working around the clock when the $2.8 billion I-70 project begins near Columbia in July.