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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Highway funding is likely at its limits

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It seems we're always talking about highway improvements in Missouri and now the focus is on the 1,200 miles of interstate that crisscross Missouri. A new study says that improvements to the interstate system in Missouri will cost $10 billion over the next 10 years.

Let me hasten to note that this new study was commissioned by highway contractors and labor unions, so I recognize there's a bit of hype in their projections. Yet despite their hype, the study probably has some merit.

Strangely missing in much of the report is Interstate 55 which runs - in Missouri - from St. Louis to Arkansas and, of course, passes directly through our region. Instead, the overwhelming bulk of the report focused on the St. Louis-Kansas City corridor, even calling for I-70 to be expanded to six lanes across the state.

But you'll recall that two years ago Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment that put more state money into our highway system. We're already spending almost $1.5 billion a year on a number of projects, not just interstate improvements. I see no way voters would approve one more penny for transportation improvements, regardless of the study results.

I guess the bottom line is that transportation issues will never go away, regardless of the funds you allocate or the improvements you make. I've had the distinct pleasure of driving the congested interstates in countless metro areas. Regardless of the lane count, if too many people head the same direction at the same time, you have a traffic problem - duh!

And one final note before the highway contractors try to push more money in their direction. The study of our interstate system ended with a ratings system. By their own study results, 81 percent of the interstates across Missouri were rated either good or fair. Now that may not be the best record across the country, but it's a far cry from the worst. In fact, a new study to be released this week will rank every state's interstates. Missouri - as always - will fall about midway in that ratings system.

In short - complain all you want but don't ask taxpayers to fork over more

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen