The state transportation department continues developing its plan for reconstruction of our major interstate highways. The department is about halfway through compiling its latest environmental impact study of the effect of separate lanes for trucks on Interstates 70 and 44. It has just finished a month-long internet public meeting that drew about 600 participants.
What’s next after the studies are done? Funding.The study will just be a dust-catcher if somebody doesn’t figure out how to pay for its recommendations. "Ultimately that won’t be our decision," says department spokesman Bob Brendel, "But we’ll have the plan in place if funding does become available.
Brendel says the project is gong to be a multi-billion dollar effort and somebody needs to make some decisions. In the end, he says, it will be up to the people of Missouri to decide what kind of transportation system they want and how they want to pay for it. But, he says, "We’re going to have to find a new direction, probably, pretty soon."
Brendel says the study will consider the impacts of toll roads on those who use the roads but it will not determine if tolls are the proper ways to fund those improvements. He says that’s just one of a myriad of ways to finance the re-building of the interstates and to finance Missouri’s entire transportation system.