The Missouri Department of Transportation has released a draft of a five-year plan that focuses on fewer construction projects.
The Transportation Department has presented a draft of its Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The Department says a drop in state funds means there are fewer projects in that draft to keep state roads and bridges in good condition. It includes 574 projects; 250 fewer than last year’s version.
The Department’s Transportation Planning Director Machelle Watkins said the draft reflects a plummeting construction budget that will go from nearly $600 million in 2016 to $325 million in 2017 and beyond.
“Missourians won’t see the kinds of projects that they’ve gotten used to over the years, economic development projects, four lane expansions, interchange additions, but instead they’ll see projects that are focused on just resurfacing or maintaining bridges on our 8,000 miles of our primary roads only,” said Watkins. “We don’t have projects added outside of the primary system and we don’t have projects added outside of the kinds of projects that maintain a system.”
The proposed draft is available for public review and comment on the Department’s website.
“Between now and July, we’re giving the public a chance to reflect on that and give us comments and we’ll come back taking those comments with a final recommendation to the Commission, which we expect they will act on at the July 1st meeting later this year,” said Watkins.
In February, the Department adopted a plan called “Missouri’s 325 System” that focuses its resources by dividing Missouri’s highways into primary and supplementary routes. Any new projects would be limited to maintaining the 8,000 miles of primary routes in the condition they are in today, but the remaining 26,000 miles would only receive limited routine maintenance.
The Missouri legislature is considering a proposal to raise fuel taxes to support transportation. Governor Jay Nixon has urged state lawmakers to send him a plan to fund transportation before the session ends.