The Department of Transportation’s Director Patrick McKenna estimates that the department will take about $110 to $120 million annually for the next five years from its cash reserves. McKenna says MODOT needs the reserves to continue receiving federal dollars to help pay for roads and bridges.
“We don’t feel great about drawing down a cash reserve because that creates a little bit of risk, should there be some type of event or issue we have to deal with in the future. So we’re hopeful that we can work with our policy makers and with the public to understand that transportation is an important part of everyday life. It’s an investment our parents and grandparents made and we need to make those similar types of investments,” says McKenna.
For every $1 in state funds, Missouri receives $4 in federal transportation funds.
McKenna says lack of funding is making roads projects increasingly difficult to prioritize, especially in rural areas.
“What we do is try to keep the surfaces on the higher volume roads in as good of condition as we can because that saves a lot of money,” says McKenna. “That means sometimes that some of the lower volume roads don’t get the attention they need and that people would like. It’s simply a matter of funding.”
The state Senate has passed a bill that would ask Missouri voters if the state’s gas tax should be increased 5.9 cents per gallon. It’s headed to the House where leadership is less favorable to increasing taxes to pay for roads and bridges.
Lawmakers are also considering reinstating a cost-sharing program that would create a partnership between state and local governments to split the cost of infrastructure projects.