Is This the Year for a Missouri Gas Tax Hike
January 13, 2016

AP) – More than two dozen interest groups from across the political spectrum are backing a proposed increase to the state’s fuel taxes, signaling bipartisan and private-sector support for what would be the first such hike in more than two decades that’s aimed at repairing roads and bridges.

The proposal would raise Missouri’s gasoline tax by 1.5 cents a gallon and diesel by 3.5 cents a gallon. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has already voiced support for the measure, and legislative leaders say transportation funding will be a top priority this year.

Chambers of commerce, heavy construction and engineering trade groups, and municipal and county government associations were among those who testified in favor of the legislation Wednesday at a Senate transportation committee hearing.

Some groups that would pay more under a gas tax increase, such as the Missouri Trucking Association, say improving the state’s roads are worth the cost. Others, such as the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, say they support an even larger tax hike. And policy analyst Joseph Miller with the Show-Me Institute, which generally opposes tax increases but supports this bill, called it a fairer way to pay for roads instead of a sales tax.

The last time Missouri raised its fuel tax was 1992, when lawmakers voted to gradually increase it to 17 cents per gallon. Inflation has since eroded the relative purchasing power of that tax down to about 8 cents, said Sen. Doug Libla, the Poplar Bluff Republican who chairs the committee and sponsored the bill.

What Do Bad Roads in Missouri Cost You?
April 30, 2015

A Washington-based group pushing for more road construction says Missouri is in need of road work.

The report from a group called TRIP says 22% of Missouri’s roads maintained by state or local governments are considered to be in poor condition.

It also says more than half of the major roads in Kansas City are in poor or mediocre condition.

The report says the shape of the roads costs Kansas City drivers $1,327 each year in costs.

The motorist cost, according to TRIP is highest in St. Louis; $1,511.

In Jefferson City the cost to a motorist is $1,316.

In Springfield it is $1,1,34.

Missouri has one of the nation’s biggest road system.

The State Highway Department says it is cutting back on road repairs because of a lack of funds.

Audit Blasts MODOT Spending
April 2, 2015

(AP) – More than $7 million in funds meant to fix Missouri’s ailing highways instead went to excessive paid leave for employees and other expenses even as the Department of Transportation has said a funding shortfall will prevent proper maintenance of roads and bridges, according to a state audit released Thursday.

Just weeks ago, Director Dave Nichols said the department will take up no new major projects following a steep decline in the state’s construction budget for roads and bridges – from $1.3 billion annually in 2009 to $685 million this year, and is expected to drop to $325 million in the fiscal year 2017 budget.

The state constitution limits money from the road fund, which in part comes from Missouri’s 17-cent fuel tax and is to be used only to improve highways and bridges.

Bu the audit noted roughly $7 million in money from the road fund was improperly used in fiscal years 2013 and 2014: about $3.8 million went to safety grants to local entities and almost $1.9 million to settle employee discrimination lawsuits.

“It’s improper,” Deputy Auditor Harry Otto said. “And it violates the strict interpretation of the constitution.”

Transportation officials in a response in the audit said using those funds for safety education and other programs was within the rights of the department, although they plan to look for other funding sources.

Bruce Watkins Drive Left Off MODOT’s Full Maintenance List
January 15, 2015

(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.

MoDOT Toll Toad Report Doesn’t Endorse It, But Offers Details
January 2, 2015

A new report from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT)does not endorse converting much of rural I-70 into a toll road but it takes a hard look at the possibility.
Governor Jay Nixon asked MODOT for the report in early december.
He received it on New Year’s Eve.
“MoDOT does not have the money to finance an I-70 tolling project,” the report said. The report, however, added “without a significant investment in Missouri’s infrastructure, life on I-70 will continue to degrade”.
The report, as a previous report did, estimates the toll road project could costs anywhere from $2-to-$4 billion dollars depending upon it’s scope.
Three options in the report called for adding at least one additional lane to the 200 mile stretch of the interstate from the I-70/I-470 interchange in Independence to the west over to the I-70/I-64 interchange at Wentzville to the east.
The report recommends the toll for autos between 10 and 15 cents per mile. That would add $20-$30 to a trip across the state.
The toll for trucks, according to the report, could be two or three times that much.
The report also goes into detail about the possibility of a public and private partnership to build and operate a toll road. Several other states have used the public/private partnership model for toll roads in the recent past.
The state has looked at the toll road option in the past. Voters, not surprisingly, don’t care for the option.
Most highway projects in Missouri are funded through the state’s fuel tax.
But experts says that’s not an good way of doing that.
Missouri voters have rejected raising the state’s 17-cent per gallon fuel tax or the state’s sales tax three times in the recent in transportation related ballot measures.