The Pike County comissioners have been busy since the start of their administration working with other counties to switch funding options for bridge work.
Counties use two different methods to fund bridges: soft match money and BRO funds.
“Soft match money is money that the county has invested in infrastructure and bridges that they have built,” Pike County Western Commissioner Bill Allen said.
“You get 80 percent of that back as credit through the state. That can only be used towards building a BRO bridge for your 20 percent match. So when you get [soft match money] built up you can trade with other counties or the city of St. Louis for BRO funds.”
BRO stands for Off-System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation and these type of bridges are 80 percent federally funded and 20 percent locally funded.
“What we did after the first of the year was we got on MoDOT’s website and looked at the counties that had an abundance of BRO funding and very low soft match funding,” Allen said.
The county traded $150,000 in soft match money to Bates County for $150,000 in BRO funding, traded Davies County $100,000 in soft match money for $100,000 in BRO funding and traded $80,000 in soft match money to the city of St. Louis for $80,000 in BRO funding.
“In years past you would trade two dollars of soft match for one dollar of BRO,” Allen said.
The negotiating process was smooth sailing to make the switch.
“It wasn’t bad at all. Bates County had never done [a trade] before and they talked to their MoDOT people who said they could do it,” Allen said.
The only minor snag wasn’t from the Pike County end.
“Davies County was over budgeted on BRO so they had to defund a project to get some soft match,” Allen said.
“It worked out in our favor and hopefully it helps them.”
The newly acquired BRO funds will go towards Pike County Road 323 that has been closed for about a year, according to Allen.
The application of the BRO funds to that bridge will move it up on MoDOT’s schedule from 2021 to 2019.
County Road 135 may be the next bridge to be targeted by the commissioners but they will weigh the most trafficked bridges in the worst shape.