Missouri transportation commission approves $10 billion plan for roads, bridges

(The Center Square) – The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approved on Wednesday a record $10 billion plan for building and maintaining roads and bridges during the next five years.

The 2023-2027 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) approves federal and state funding for all modes of transportation. Approximately $7.65 billion is budgeted for road and bridge construction contractor awards, averaging approximately $1.5 billion annually for the next five years.

The 667-page plan reviews project priorities and state and federal revenue sources. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) estimates an annual average of $1.4 billion in federal reimbursements from fiscal year 2023 to 2027. The funds come from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, enacted by President Joe Biden last November.

The plan states that 73% of every dollar MODOT receives is from motor fuel taxes, but other sources of state revenue include motor vehicle sales tax, vehicle and driver licensing fees and interest earned on investments.

MODOT estimates $647 million in motor fuel tax revenue in fiscal year 2023, increasing to $814 million in 2026. Senate Bill 262, signed into law in 2021, increases MODOT’s revenue from the motor fuel tax by approximately $500 million. The law increases Missouri’s fuel tax 2.5 cents per gallon for five years to 29.5 cents per gallon in 2025. However, the law also allows taxpayers to get the additional tax refunded by submitting purchase records.

The report states the gas tax revenue will decline after 2026 “as we expect Missourians will turn to more fuel-efficient vehicles due to Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that reduce energy consumption by increasing the fuel economy of vehicles. While good for the environment, these actions erode motor fuel tax revenues.”

Approximately $100 million is from the Governor’s Rural Route Program, appropriated to address the state’s low-volume roads in fiscal year 2023.

“Just a few years ago, our 2016 STIP made available a fraction of this program with only $2.6 billion,” Patrick McKenna, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, said in a statement. “The new STIP—our largest to date—is quite an achievement that has taken the collective efforts of policymakers, state leaders and the leadership of the commission, which has held firm on the need for resources to do the projects our citizens expect us to do. By working with planning partners across the state and listening to the needs of the communities we serve, we’ve made these plans to take care of this massive system.”

The plan focuses on preventive maintenance improvements to approximately 34,000 miles of roads and 10,400 bridges. The plan stated that 823 bridges in the state are currently in poor condition, and 961 are weight restricted. Approximately 119 additional bridges will be classified as poor due each year due to aging infrastructure. The plan makes investments in approximately 1,064 bridges with a goal of keeping the number of bridges in poor condition below 900.

Featured photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Transportation.

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