Missourians to Consider 10-Year Plan for New Highway Improvements

Thu July 17, 2014 - Midwest Edition
Richard Miller



On May 14 the Missouri House of Representatives approved legislation to allow Missouri voters to consider Amendment 7, an increase to the state’s sales tax rate by three-fourth of a cent for ten years for improvements to highways, bridges, airports and urban transit systems. All proceeds from the tax would go toward much-needed transportation improvements across the state. The amendment’s provisions include the creation of a project list prior to the election so Missourians can see what their tax dollars would fund.

On June 13 a list of project priorities, broken down by state districts, was submitted to the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission for review. Additionally, a series of meetings and an online comment form was available for the public to comment on these lists.

At the meeting on June 11, the commission heard MODOT’s progress report on the creation of the list and decided to expand the public comment period.

“There will be hundreds of projects on this list, affecting every type of transportation — from roads and bridges to transit, ports, airports, and bike-ped facilities,” said Commission Chair Stephen Miller. “We want to make certain Missourians have the opportunity to let us know if they believe these are the projects that would have the biggest impact for their communities and the state.”

Dave Nichols, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), also issued the following statement in response to the transportation funding bill passed by the Missouri General Assembly, House Joint Resolution 68.

“Today is a great day for the future of transportation in Missouri. I would like to thank the general assembly for passing this important legislation that gives Missourians the opportunity to improve our economy and keep our families safe by investing in much-needed transportation improvements.

“We are working with planning partners around the state and representatives from every mode of transportation to determine how this new revenue could best improve our total transportation system. We are ready to deliver the projects and services that Missourians expect and deserve.”

MODOT also provided the following facts about the initiative:

• Will provide an estimated $5.4 billion in funding for transportation projects over 10 years (2015-2025)

• The measure provides that 90 percent of the revenue, an estimated $480 million annually, will go toward state transportation initiatives. Ten percent, or an estimated $54 million annually, will be split among cities and counties for transportation projects.

• The sales tax increase will not be applied to purchases of medicine, groceries and gasoline.

• Fuel taxes will not increase and toll roads will not be implemented over the 10-year time period.

• The sales tax revenues can be used for any transportation purpose (road and bridge improvements, urban and rural transit, friendlier bike and pedestrian accommodations, improvements in rail, ports and airports).

• Every region will prioritize the projects to meet the direct transportation needs of residents and businesses in its communities.

Additionally, $500 million will be subtracted from the pool to pay for adding a third lane along Interstate 70 from Blue Springs to Wentzville, a distance of 192 mi. (320 km).

If approved, 55 percent of its funds will be allocated towards roadway projects, 30 percent on public transit, 10 percent on bike and pedestrian, and 5 percent on non-roadway freight and aviation.

If approved funding by district will be distributed in the following manner:

• Northeast has 135 projects that would cost $203 million.

• Northwest has 132 projects that would cost $195 million.

• Kansas City has 39 projects that would cost $897 million.

• Central has 94 projects that would cost $486 million.

• St. Louis has 94 projects that would cost $1.488 billion.

• Southwest has 231 projects that would cost $643 million.

• Southeast has 95 projects that would cost $387 million.

Some other notable projects to be initiated if funding were approved by Missouri voters:

• $150 million Broadway Bridge replacement over the Missouri River in Kansas City.

• $250 million to rebuild I-270 in north St. Louis County.

• $100 million to upgrade Highway N in St. Charles County.

• $100 million to expand U.S. 50 in central Missouri.