Missouri’s transportation director says the federal government needs to make more of an investment in the nation’s infrastructure.
MoDOT Director Pete Rahn has told state lawmakers their federal counter-points need to invest more in transportation, stating the $286 billion budgeted would have to grow to $545 billion to match the purchasing power of the federal transportation program in 1991. He says the federal government allocated five percent of its budget in the 80s to infrastructure and that percentage has steadily decreased ever since.
Some in Congress have advocated an emergency $25 billion economic stimulus package that would focus on infrastructure, in particular, roads and bridges. MoDOT officials have outlined 34 projects it would be ready to begin within 180 days should Congress release the money. The majority of the money, $137 million, would make improvements to Interstates 70, 44, 55, 35 and 29. Another $60 million would be set aside for rural routes throughout the state. Seventeen of the proposed projects are already included in the state construction program. They would be completed sooner, some by up to four years earlier.
Rahn says traffic has grown so much over the years that it uses up 83% of the national highway system’s capacity. Even with the injection of stimulus money, federal funding would fall far short of what Washington should deliver in Rahn’s eyes. He says the nation needs to engage in a conversation on the appropriate amount it should spend on infrastructure when the current highway bill ends in September of next year. He says MoDOT also is engaging in a conversation with Missourians about how the state should proceed with funding transportation once money leveraged from passage of Amendment Three runs out, which he says is coming shortly, reducing the state highway budget to mere maintenance.