Congress has passed a five-year federal highway bill and President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure. All of Missouri’s congressional delegation supported the $305 billion plan to pay for the nation’s roads and bridges. Other items in the bill include more than $10 billion over five years for Amtrak and other rail programs, $12 billion for mass transit and $1 billion for vehicle safety programs.
The main revenue stream for transportation comes from the trust fund, which is made up mostly of the 18.4-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax. That tax hasn’t been increased since 1993 because many lawmakers believe it’s too politically risky. The bill would move $53 billion from the Federal Reserve Bank’s capital account to the general treasury.
Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) said long term funding for roads and bridges is critical.
“This will be the longest term highway bill in 17 years. Since 2009, sadly I believe, there have been 37 short term extensions of the highway bill,” said Blunt.
He said Missouri needs more transportation money to keep drawing federal matching funds.
“County owned bridges make up 52% of the Missouri bridges and 30% of that 52% are considered either structurally deficit or obsolete.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) is pleased Congress reached a compromise.
“Now, we’ve got to do the hard work of making sure Missouri has the matching funds so they can pull down these important federal dollars for our roads and bridges,” said McCaskill. “We’ve been able to compromise and come up with legislation, that while not perfect, at least will provide some long term stability to infrastructure funding in Missouri.”
Meanwhile the Missouri Legislature couldn’t agree this year on how to increase state transportation funding, though most lawmakers believe it must be increased. Several proposals for state funding are being offered for the 2016 session.