There could be a showdown between the Missouri House and Senate over which I-70 expansion plan to back. The Missouri Legislature’s budget leaders have different approaches to widen the roadway.

State Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, wants to designate $2.8 billion to expand Interstate-70 to at least three lanes in both directions from the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs to the St. Louis suburb of Wentzville.

During committee work on the state budget proposal Tuesday, he talked about his plans.

“The infrastructure improvements that we can make right now, given the cash balances that we have, are transformative,” said Hough. “I-70 is, if not the oldest, one of the oldest portions of our national interstate systems, right? It’s almost, I think, seventy-some years old. And the maintenance and repair budget that MoDOT expends on that varies annually from, I think, somewhere around $60 million to upwards of $90 million a year.”

Hough’s committee is proposing to use $1.4 billion in state funding and borrow $1.4 billion over a maximum of 15 years to make the overhaul a reality.

“We struggle, I think, in this state a lot of times in balancing out rural interests and urban interests,” said Hough. “And, I mean, we have a big and diverse state. And this is a main artery, not only for our urban communities, as a thoroughfare, but also those folks that live in and around and move their products obviously down through the center part of the state.”

Hough projects the annual cost to be about $135 million. He said the state has little debt.

Meanwhile, over in the House, it has given initial approval to a plan backed by House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage. He supports the governor’s request to designate $859 million to expand Interstate-70 to three lanes in both directions around three busy sections in the St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia areas.

The legislature is working to pass a balanced budget proposal by the beginning of May.

Which I-70 expansion plan will get across the finish line? Time will tell if one does or if lawmakers meet somewhere in the middle.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is working on the state budget proposal this week. The full Senate is expected to work on it next week. Then House and Senate budget negotiators will work out their differences.

After negotiations are made, the fiscal outline will go back through both chambers.

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