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Following months of listening sessions throughout Missouri, MoDOT has released a preliminary plan for the state’s transportation future. Suggested improvements total nearly $71 billion. But does the state have the funds to deliver? KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann reports.
The report released Thursday identifies four main goals based upon months of public listening sessions throughout the state earlier this year. Andrew Mueller is a spokesperson for MoDOT in southwest Missouri.
“Transportation touches lives one way or another. And we spoke to thousands of Missourians. We got over 12,000 ideas presented to us in all 114 counties. We went out to them. It was the greatest outreach plan we’ve ever done in putting together one of these plans,” says Mueller.
Statewide goals outlined in the report include taking care of the current transportation system, keeping travelers safe, providing better transportation choices and interconnectivity between modes, and investing in economic growth and job development.
Economic development remains a priority for Springfield residents, according to the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. While several diverging diamonds have now been completed in the area to improve the flow of traffic, making improvements to the 65 and 44 interchange is cited to have a direct impact on the Springfield economy.
Mueller explains the current estimated budget to cover the long range plan falls short.
“We’ve got some tough choices to make. Over the next 20 years, which is the time frame we’re looking at with this long range plan, we anticipate around $17 billion in revenue so that gap would have to be bridged in order to give Missourian’s everything they want,” Mueller says.
MoDot’s current annual construction budget has already dropped from $1.2 billion per year to $700 million this year, and is projected to drop even further to $425 million by 2019. Mueller explains that around 70 percent of the revenue for these projects comes from fuel taxes, license fees, and motor vehicle sales tax. MoDot says these funds are decreasing, while the cost for materials like asphalt and concrete are on the rise.
With the release of the 20-year plan, a 45 day response period is underway, giving Missourians a chance to provide feedback through missourionthemove.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.