Public Invited to Comment on State Transportation Plan
HANNIBAL - Ten years ago, Missouri's five-year transportation program was about an inch-thick bound document. Today, it is less than one-half that size, and the true comparison will be seen, or unseen, with the lack of construction projects over the next several years. In the last ten years, great progress has been made to improve Missouri's transportation system, helped in part by temporary funding increases from Amendment 3 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," said MoDOT Area Engineer Brian Haeffner.
But the sense of satisfaction that comes from traveling on those smooth, safe roadways may soon be forgotten. Missouri's transportation system is in the midst of a drastic funding shortage, and unless a solution is found, the situation will only get worse.
Missouri's construction program has dropped from an average of $1.2 billion in recent years to about $700 million. "It's barely enough to maintain the existing system, much less tackle the projects that create jobs, increase safety, ease congestion and foster economic development," Haeffner explained.
In the 17 counties in MoDOT's Northeast District, there is only one major construction project funded, and it will begin later this year - an interchange at US 61 and South Lincoln Drive in Troy. "We have a lot of resurfacing funded and some bridge work, but no major projects," Haeffner said. He works directly with the central part of the district including the counties of Macon, Randolph, Monroe, Audrain, Pike, Ralls, Marion and Shelby.
The five-year plan, known as the STIP (Statewide Transportation Improvement Program) lists projects that have committed funding, as well as projects that are being "scoped," which helps get them to a preliminary plan stage so they will be ready to build when funding becomes available.
"The bigger projects we have in scoping in the five-year plan include the replacement of the Champ Clark Bridge, the Hannibal Expressway and further improvements in Palmyra, but, again, these are not funded for construction," Haeffner noted. "We simply no longer have the resources to tackle big projects that enhance the transportation system," he added.
The draft 2013-2017 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program lists transportation projects planned by state and regional planning agencies for fiscal years 2013 through 2017 (July 1, 2012 through June 30, 3017). The proposed program is available for public review now until June 1. Those interested in seeing the program or offering comments can contact MoDOT's customer service centers at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (888-275-6636). The program is also available on MoDOT's web site, http://www.modot.org/, and at MoDOT district and regional offices around the state. The formal comment period ends June 1, 2012.
Following the public review period, 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 at its July 11 meeting in Washington.