(AP) – Only one-quarter of Missouri’s highways would be fully maintained under a Missouri Department of Transportation proposal outlined Wednesday as a way to deal with an impending budget shortfall.
By 2017, the department expects to have $325 million available annually for construction and maintenance, which is significantly short of the $485 million needed to fully maintain Missouri’s 34,000 miles of roads, transportation director Dave Nichols said.
The department is proposing to fully maintain 8,000 miles of primary state roads, which establishes a network of interstates, U.S. and state highways. Every county has at least one primary route under the plan.
The rest of the roads, including some well-traveled roads in metropolitan areas, are seen as primarily used for local travel and would receive minimal maintenance.
Other roads identified as supplementary routes used in local travel will receive minimal maintenance, Nichols said, some of which serve as major arteries in the state’s largest cities, including Lindbergh Boulevard and Olive Street in St. Louis and Blue Parkway and Bruce Watkins Drive in Kansas City.
Nichols made clear the effects of that approach, telling the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, “Many of those roads are going to deteriorate.”
Missouri voters in August rejected a bid to increase the state’s sales tax by three-quarters of a cent, which would have provided $540 million annually for 10 years for transportation. No concrete funding alternative has emerged since, said Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer, R-Odessa, who chairs the House Transportation Committee.
“This list is going to open a lot of eyes in Missouri,” Kolkmeyer said. “MoDOT is in trouble.”
The identified roads will be maintained in good condition, with pavement resurfacing projects and bridge repairs. About 73 percent of miles driven in the state take place on the primary roads.