Columbia, MO -- Mercer County is getting federal help to repair roads and bridges damaged by severe spring storms. Through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Public Assistance program, the county will receive funding to help with repairs at more than 54 project sites.
Because of damages caused by the storms in May, President Bush issued a disaster declaration on May 6 for a number of Missouri counties. Under this declaration, Mercer County, located in north central Missouri on the Iowa line, was designated eligible for Public Assistance on May 24. Since that time county officials have worked with FEMA and the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to identify all damage sites and define the work that needed to be funded.
The Public Assistance Program, administered by SEMA and funded 75 percent by FEMA, provides for the repair, restoration, or replacement of damaged public structures and facilities, such as roads, bridges, and public buildings. Eligible applicants include state and local governments and certain private, non-profit organizations.
Of the eligible projects currently approved in Mercer County, most are defined as "small projects" or projects costing less than $52,000. Small projects are funded using the initial estimate of costs, allowing for quicker transfer of funds. Those projects primarily involve gravel wash or damaged culverts and are scattered throughout the 454 square mile county.
The county has one "large project," meaning costing more than $52,000. Large projects are funded using the final accounting of actual, eligible and documented costs. Mercer County's large project is the replacement of bridge 49 over Irwin Creek.
In May, rushing floodwaters irreparably damaged the old bridge. The county applied for funding to replace the bridge, reconstructing it to current codes and standards. Minimum county design requires that new bridges be a minimum of 20 feet wide and be able to survive "the 25-year storm."
By adding Hazard Mitigation, Section 406, funds to the cost of building to meet minimum county requirements, Mercer County will be able to build a new bridge that meets the criteria for the 100 year storm. "Hazard mitigation" is action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects. Under the Public Assistance program, "406 funds" can be added to repair and rebuilding projects to pay for cost-effective measures to reduce or eliminate the threat of future damage to the facility.
Irwin Creek's new bridge is estimated to be 20 x 70 foot clear span steel girder bridge with a concrete deck. It will be built longer to prevent or reduce the threat of future damage, and be elevated to make an adequate opening for floodwaters to go through.
The total estimated eligible cost of the Irwin Creek bridge project is $52,299; the 75 percent federal share has been obligated, and transferred to the state for disbursement to the county following the state's guidelines and requirements
The gravel road served by that bridge is a school bus and mail route and lack of a bridge has added six or more miles to the mailman's daily route. County crews are hard at work on the new span. Depending on the weather, the new bridge should open to traffic soon after the school buses start to roll later this month.