By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri's five-year transportation proposal calls for $700 million in spending during the next year and a focus on maintenance projects, rather than new construction.
Missouri Department of Transportation Director Dave Nichols unveiled the State Transportation Improvement Program on Wednesday, opening a monthlong comment period. He said a large reduction in transportation funding makes the five-year plan look much more modest than the $1.2 billion annual plans from a few years ago.
"For the most part, this draft STIP features projects that focus on maintaining the transportation system we have," Nichols said. "Asphalt overlays, preventative maintenance and rehabilitation projects make up the majority of our $700 million program."
A public review period will continue through May 31, with comments accepted at www.modot.org.
Northeast Missouri proposals for the coming year include pavement improvements along U.S. 61 in Ralls and Pike counties. More than $1.5 million in improvements along Mo. 16 from Canton to near Lewistown during the next year. Bridge deck replacement are planned along U.S. 61 in Clark County at Honey Creek and Buck Run Creek.
One of the major projects for the 2014-15 construction seasons calls for more work on U.S. 61 in northern Ralls County and resurfacing of Mo. 6 from the U.S. 61 junction to Route DD between LaBelle and Lewistown.
"As funding decreases we're mainly focused on taking care of the existing system. We don't have those major peojects we were taking care of and celebrating just a few years ago," said Paula Gough, district engineer in MoDOT's Northeast Missouri region.
MoDOT funding has been discussed by state lawmakers, with plans to bring up a statewide sales tax issue for voters to decide in November 2014. The tax that would pay for a list of priority projects sought in each region of the state and sunset in 10 years unless retained by voters. The tax could generate an estimated $800 million each year. A joint committee also has been proposed to oversee MoDOT's spending of the funds.
Suggestions on project priorities are being collected through regional listening sessions and input at www.missourionthemove.com.