Gov. Jay Nixon’s idea to charge tolls for rebuilding and expanding 200 miles of Interstate 70 is expected to fuel further debate.
While few disagree the highway needs a revamp, the prospects of getting voters’ approval for tolls remain bleak. Last year, Missouri voters said no to Amendment 7, which would have raised the sales tax by 0.75 percent to free up funding for transportation improvements, including an I-70 reconstruction project.
Since 1970, Missouri voters have twice rejected constitutional amendments to permit the state charge for roads and bridges. Missouri lawmakers had a similar attempt to introduce tolls on I-70 in 2012, but the idea was highly opposed by the trucking industry and gas station owners.
Some say the extra cash would amount to double taxation, as gasoline taxes already pay for interstate highways, while others claim tolls would choke Missouri’s competitiveness over other states.
Missouri transportation officials warned the governor funds for the highway are drying up quickly and called for improvements soon. In a report submitted to the governor, officials estimate that tolls would total about $20 to $30 per car for a trip across Missouri on I-70 and “two to three times that for trucks.”