State and federal and local officials took a victory lap of sorts on Wednesday, visiting Rocheport to tout the funding that will make a new Interstate 70 bridge possible.

Gov. Mike Parson was joined by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., for a news conference to pat each other on the back for securing an $81.2 million federal grant that was key for the $255.8 million project.

They were joined by Columbia Mayor Brian Treece and Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill. Each of the local governments pledged $2 million for the new bridge to prevent a repair project on the existing span that would have clogged traffic through the state, diverting business away from the region or leaving motorists stuck in long lines of slow-moving vehicles.

“It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we all work together, and I can think of no better symbol of that cooperation than a bridge, and a bridge spanning the mighty Missouri River,” Treece said.

When the $81.2 million INFRA grant was announced in July, the funding for the project seemed to be about $50 million short. The state had already pledged $105.2 million and the local funding, including $100,000 from Cooper County, was also available.

Since then, Missouri has another $20.7 million from federal transportation funds for small bridge projects in the northern half of the state, freeing up money already allocated from the state road fund.

The INFRA grant also triggered a $301 million state bond program that will repair 215 bridges and a $50 million appropriation of general revenue for bridge repairs, both of which will make revenue available from the road fund.

Parson said the bridge was a priority from early on in his tenure, when he went to Washington, D.C. to meet with Blunt and the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

They explained to him the national significance of the bridge, Blunt said.

“All of this traffic that goes through here every day is a lot of the commercial lifeblood of this country,” Blunt said. “There aren’t real alternatives.”

State Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, praised Parson’s leadership on securing funding for the bridge, saying he came in at a “timely and important moment” to focus on infrastructure and workforce development.

Parson said the two go hand-in-hand — the state needs the right infrastructure in place to support economic development.

“This bridge is truly about the state of Missouri. It’s not about one part,” Parson said. “It’s about a lifeblood, lifeline that we have run across the state of Missouri.”

The new bridge will be built alongside the existing bridge, which will remain open during construction. The new bridge will be four lanes to match I-70, but will be able to expand to six lanes if I-70 is widened, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Blunt credited Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, for helping to ensure Missouri received the grant from a pool of $800 million available for all projects nationwide.

Earlier in the day, Blunt and Parson visited Zenith Aircraft Co. in Mexico. The pair emphasized infrastructure and workforce development as the keys to a successful state economy.

Missouri, with its two major rivers, its highways and railroads is what gives the state and the U.S. a significant advantage over its neighbors, Parson said.

"[Zenith] wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the infrastructure in this area, so they can get these products out all over the world," Parson said. "That is why we're in an ideal location to distribute, whether it's in the United States or globally."

Charles Dunlap of GateHouse Missouri contributed to this report.