JEFFERSON CITY - Stagnant state revenues, uncertain federal funding and no more money from Amendment 3 bonds is causing highway and bridge construction in Missouri to decrease dramatically.
A proposed five-year transportation improvement program presented to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission today contains construction awards averaging $500 million per year down from $1.25 billion in the previous program.
To cope with this funding challenge, the Missouri Department of Transportation has adopted a five-year direction to deliver commitments promised Missouri citizens. MoDOT will focus on keeping major highways in good condition, improving smaller state roads and keeping pace with needed bridge repairs and maintenance.
"This five-year direction requires significant cost-saving strategies like reducing the number of MoDOT's salaried employees and operating expenditures for mowing and equipment," said Kevin Keith, MoDOT interim director. "These measures are estimated to save more than $200 million, which will simply allow us to deliver what is proposed in the statewide improvement program."
However, there are consequences of operating with insufficient funds. It means the department will not be able to address economic development opportunities, deliver corridor improvements or replace major bridges.
The draft 2011-2015 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program lists transportation projects planned by state and regional planning agencies for fiscal years 2011 through 2015 (July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2015). It totals $5.7 billion, with approximately $4.07 billion going to highway and bridge projects, about $970 million to other transportation modes and approximately $682 million to local transportation programs. It contains any remaining Amendment 3 and Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement projects.
"We use a transparent and extensive public involvement process to develop this program, and we have worked with our planning partners from communities around the state to identify and prioritize these new projects," Keith said.
The proposed program is available for public review beginning May 5. Citizens interested in seeing the program or offering comments can contact MoDOT's customer service centers at 1-888 ASK MODOT (275-6636). The program is also available on MoDOT's Web site - http://www.modot.org/ - and at MoDOT's district offices around the state. The formal public comment period ends June 4.
Following the public review, the comments will be presented to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The commission will review the comments and the final transportation program before considering it for approval July 1.
The draft 2011-2015 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program includes transportation improvements identified by metropolitan planning organizations in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia, Jefferson City, Joplin and St. Joseph. The STIP projects located in these areas are subject to discussion and approval by the appropriate metropolitan planning organization.
Editor's Note: A map showing the program's proposed highway and bridge projects is available at http://www.modot.org/.