DOT IN CRISIS: MoDOT faces funding shortfall for new road projects

MoDOT Chief Engineer said the state won't be able to pay for road expansions or new highway interchanges

July 08, 2015

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) will not have enough funding to expand roads or build new interchanges.

MoDOT Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger said in a public statement that the agency's new five-year plan only envisions routine maintenance such as pavement repair or bridge deck replacements. He said the agency will be able to finish current construction projects such as the Lafayette Street interchange, but similar projects will have to wait for funding to improve. MoDOT's construction budget for Fiscal Year 2016, which began July 1, is $600 million. Three years ago, it was $1.3 billion.

"In a regular year, we'd add a combination of taking-care-of-the-system projects, safety projects, economic development projects, and this year, we're only doing take-care-of-the-system-projects," he said. "And we're not doing enough of those to keep the system in the condition that it's in."

It comes as little surprise that MoDOT isn’t the only state transportation agency facing a funding shortage. Nearby states like Arkansas approved a ten-year, half-cent sales tax in 2012. Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstand approved a 10 cent gas tax increase.

However, tax hike proposals have not been as favorable in Missouri. Nearly 60% of Missouri voters rejected a ¾-cent sales tax increase, specifically for transportation needs in November 2014.

Hassinger said an increase in the gas tax is likely the most viable funding option.