Nixon Revives I-70 Toll Road Idea

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is reviving the potential for tolls on Interstate 70, asking state transportation officials to analyze the option as part of a plan to rebuild the cross-state highway.

Nixon sent a letter Tuesday to the state transportation commission requesting a report by the end of the year on the possibility of using tolls “to improve and expand I-70 and to free-up resources” for other roads and bridges.

Highway officials have said the heavily traveled interstate between St. Louis and Kansas City is in need of a complete makeover and have talked for years about widening it to six total lanes.

Voters in August defeated a proposed three-quarter-cent sales tax for transportation that would have helped finance a $1.5 billion rebuilding of I-70 along with hundreds of other projects. That led some state transportation officials to warn of a potential rise in traffic fatalities and bridge closures if Missouri is unable to pay for needed maintenance.

As recently as a few years ago, Missouri was spending $1.3 billion annually on roads and bridges due to a surge of bond-induced revenues. But contracts are projected to fall to $325 million by 2017 and remain at that level. The department has said it needs to spend at least $485 million annually just to keep roads and bridges in good repair – and that doesn’t account for any major new projects.

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