Gridlock is everywhere these days, from the halls of Congress to the highways and streets back home. It is only fitting, then, that the best way to end the gridlock in Washington is to invest in our infrastructure and end the gridlock that affects Americans every day. Whether we’re talking about roads, rivers, railways, or runways, it’s obvious we have a lot of work to do in repairing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
This week is recognized around the country as Infrastructure Week, and it’s a great time to highlight the importance of coming together to work towards a lasting solution to repair and rebuild our infrastructure. If an infrastructure bill becomes a reality—and I hope it will—we have a real opportunity to see major improvements all around North Missouri and across America.
That said, we shouldn’t have to wait for an infrastructure package to make necessary improvements now. As the Republican Leader of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I have been working to do just that—making sure we’re solving infrastructure problems as they arise, not kicking the can down the road. In just the last few years, we’ve seen the dividends in several critical infrastructure investments in North Missouri.
The aging Champ Clark Bridge in Louisiana, Missouri received a $10 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, jumpstarting a $60 million project to replace the 91-year-old structure and ensuring that folks won’t have to travel 77 miles out of the way just to cross the river. I look forward to seeing the new bridge open this fall.
Likewise, the Buck O’Neil Bridge—a gateway to Kansas City—is also in desperate need of replacement. I worked with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to secure a $25 million BUILD Grant to help rebuild the bridge. This project is critical to minimizing gridlock and maintaining a safe route over the Missouri River—helping connect Kansas City and the Northland.
However, this is about more than just bridges. “Infrastructure” encompasses a variety of things. Recently, we’ve seen federal investment in a new, improved Main Street in Maryville. Broadband providers across North Missouri are receiving funds to help connect households without high-speed internet access. And just last week, I was proud to announce that Memphis, Tarkio and Bowling Green would all see major improvements at their local airports, thanks to an infrastructure program I pushed for to prioritize our rural airports.
These key federal investments will provide long-term infrastructure solutions for our communities—ensuring our economic success for years to come. According to the Business Roundtable, more infrastructure investments like these could increase disposable income for Missouri households by an average of $1000 per year over 20 years. That’s huge!
While we have many major infrastructure projects to celebrate in North Missouri, there are still countless projects—large and small—that need attention. We must keep fighting to secure critical infrastructure investments in North Missouri, while also pushing for a real, long-term solution to America’s infrastructure problem.
Sam Graves is the Mo. Sixth District U.S. Representative.