The budget of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has lost an alarming amount of weight, and now roads and bridges across the region are slipping into poor health.
Dave Nichols, director of MoDOT, is making a plea to lawmakers in an attempt to funnel through more infrastructure dollars. His message might be getting through. On April 9, the state House of Representatives passed a joint resolution that would raise $800 million a year for the next decade. The measure relies on a one-cent general sales tax which would go directly to transportation projects, and also prohibit tolling on I-70 and I-44. If approved by the Senate, the issue will be placed on the November ballot.
Nichols has painted a dark picture over the last few weeks. MoDOT’s budget has dropped from $1.3 billion in 2010 to $685 million this year, and it is projected to go as low as $325 million in 2017.
Public hearings held a year ago showed residents are aware that something needs to be done to boost road- and bridge-construction spending. House Joint Resolution 68 also would prohibit state lawmakers from increasing the state gas tax without voter approval.
The Senate filibustered a similar move last year, and instead called on tax advocates to petition to get some kind of transportation-funding initiative on the ballot.