Missouri’s transportation funding outlook has become so bleak that the state’s Highways and Transportation Commission has stopped adding new projects to its five-year construction program, which includes roads, bridges, water, rail, air, and mass transit. The commission’s chairman, Joe Carmichael, said during a transportation conference in Jefferson City the focus will shift to maintenance only. Carmichael added that projects currently in the plan will be built as scheduled. Failure to raise the state’s fuel tax and rising costs for materials are being blamed in part for the drop in revenue.
Carmichael says they’ve also suspended the state’s cost-share program, in which cities and counties pay part of a project’s cost in exchange for speeding up construction. MoDOT Director Dave Nichols said the state transportation system will gradually deteriorate unless there is a funding increase.
Last year, the Legislature rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have created a one-cent sales tax to fund transportation needs. A similar proposal has been filed in the Missouri House this year, and a citizens’ initiative has also been approved for circulation.