We might be only months away from a devastating money shortage for Missouri road and bridge building, and other transportation programs.
Missouri gets $900 million to one-billion dollars a year from the Federal Aid Highways Trust Fund. The money pays for about 80% of the projects it is used for. But the fund is likely to be empty sometime in federal fiscal year 2015. Today is the first day of fiscal year ’14.
The fund is financed by the federal fuel tax but it, like Missouri’s motor fuel tax, has not been increased for twenty years. Chief Financial Officer Roberta Broeker (braker) with the state transportation department says it’s an issue that does not appear high on the public radar. She wonders how bad things will have to get. “Is it when I’m sitting in traffic for an hour?…Is it when the bridge is closed and I have to detour for fifty miles?…Where’s the point at which people will say, ‘Yeah, I get it. I have to provide more funding.’”
Broeker says Congress has for several years put billions of general revenue money into the fund, but the mood of today’s Congress does not breed optimism. She says the falure of the Federal Aid Highways Trust Fund would be a national economic catastrophe and the ripples from a crippled heavy construction industry would be felt in many parts of the state and national economy.