Highway Commission Chief Says I-70 Toll Road Will Not Solve MoDot Money Problems

The head of the Missouri Highway Commission, Stephen Milleer, says converting I-70 into a toll road may improve the interstate, but would not help the state’s other highways or the state’s tight highway budget.
“This is not going to be a solution for all of our transportation needs. I-70 is just one project,” said Miller.
Governor Jay Nixon has asked the Missouri Department of Transportation to report to him by the end of the month on the potential for a toll-road on the rural portion of the interstate, about 200 miles.
In 2012, MoDOT produced a white paper on the same topic. It was entitled ‘A Public Private Partnership to Rebuild and Expand I-70 in Missouri’.
That report stated that the state already has all the necessary environmental approvals; federal permission to rebuild I-70 as a toll road and it “frees up money spent today on I-70 that could be used on other critical projects”.
The report also estimates auto would be charged about 10-15 cents a mile. That would add $20 to the car trip from Kansas City to St. Louis, at 10-cents a mile.
The report also says the rates for trucks could be” two or three times that”
The total cost for a revamped I-70 as a toll road was estimated at $2-to-$4 billion dollars at that time.
Miller says MoDOT started looking at the possibility of an I-70 toll road after the defeat of Amendment 7 at the polls in August. That was a sales tax increase for transportation in Missouri. One of the projects was adding a third lane to I-70 each way across all of Missouri.
The head of the Heavy Constructors Association in Kansas City, Ed DeSoignie was a member of a citizens panel that looked at the Missouri road system for the state legislature.
DeSoignie says the state’s transportation fund is in a crisis after the sales tax defeat. He claims the MoDOT finances are facing “falling off the cliff”.
Miller says MoDOT current budget of $485 million provides for maintenance or the current system and no improvements. He also warns that without help, that fund drops to under $400 million in 18 months. Both Miller and DeSoignie thinks the state will have to look at some other ideas.
“Any of those options are going to require the public to fund it someway. Whether you call it a toll or a tax,” Miller said

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