A mid-Missouri official is urging Missouri’s transportation task force to make Interstate 70 their top priority.
Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill testified this week at the 21st century Missouri transportation system task force hearing in Columbia.
Atwill says more than 731,000 Missourians live in the eight counties along I-70 between Lafayette and St. Charles counties, including Boone.
“If you look at the population spread between St. Louis and Kansas City and you go a county above and a county below the dividing line of I-70, you end up with 3.8 million people in that zone,” Atwill says.
Atwill notes that’s more than half of Missouri’s population.
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has said that the minimum cost to reconstruct and expand I-70 in Missouri is $2 billion.
MoDOT says 49 percent of Missouri’s employers and 63 percent of Missouri’s jobs are located within 30 miles of Interstate 70.
“People all over the state benefit from the I-70 corridor and I tried to narrow it down (during testimony), but still it shows a lot of population,” says Atwill.
I-70 in Missouri was designed and built between 1956 and 1965.
Commissioner Atwill describes I-70 as “the river of commerce of our time.”
“Now we’re dependent on our roads as our source of traffic in all forms,” Atwill says.
I-70 in Missouri was originally intended to carry about 12,000 to 18,000 vehicles per day. MoDOT says I-70 at Independence now carries about 98,000 vehicles daily.
Meantime, there was focus at this week’s hearing on the heavily-congested Interstate 70 and Highway 63 interchange in Columbia.
MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna told the audience it would cost “a quarter of a billion dollars” to improve that interchange.
State Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, tells task force members he tries to avoid it, because of backups.
The 21st century Missouri transportation system task force will submit its recommendations to the Legislature by January 1.
The Columbia Chamber of Commerce hosted Wednesday’s hearing at the Stoney Creek conference center, along with a reception after the meeting.
Click here to listen to the full three-minute interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill, which was recorded on December 13, 2017 at Columbia’s Stoney Creek conference center: