The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission has approved MoDOT’s “Tough Choices Ahead” plan to focus its’ limited resources on nearly 8-thousand miles of the state’s 34-thousand miles of roads.

The plan was presented last month by MoDOT Director Dave Nichols as a way to prepare for future construction budget woes.  Nichols says the construction budget will drop to $325 million in 2017.

MoDOT Director Dave Nichols presents his plan to the commission.

MoDOT Director Dave Nichols presents his plan to the commission.

“We need to have had this decision made by the commission that would allow us to prioritize the projects on the primary system,” said Nichols.

The department will use its annual construction budget to maintain primary roads that connect cities across the state.  The remaining roads make up the state’s supplementary system, which will only receive limited routine maintenance such as filling potholes and patching pavement.

Nichols says the plan will take effect immediately.

“We’re actually in our project programming process of identifying in each of our 7 regions of the state, what are the major transportation projects they would like to do,” said Nichols.  “We’re only going to be able to do what we describe as preservation projects, so these are simply resurfacing projects, and maybe a bridge replacement project on this primary system.”

Nichols said the department is committed to keeping up its winter operations program.

“Missourians will continue to see a very aggressive snow removal program,” said Nichols.  “But in the future, the services that we’re going to be able to provide are going to be limited based on the amount of revenue we have available to do those programs.”

MoDOT budgets about 46 million per year for winter operations.  Last year, MoDOT spent nearly 72 million in winter operations due to the difficult weather and shortage of salt.

MoDOT estimates that an additional 160 million each year in new state funds would allow the department to match federal funds and maintain the entire state system in its current condition.  The commission discussed the idea of what a fuel tax or toll road could do to help increase the state’s investment in transportation.