Transportation

Missouri unveils $4.45 billion, five-year road plan

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 4, 2017 6:35 pm Updated: May. 5, 2017 8:12 am

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri would spend $4.45 billion on transportation projects over the next five years under a draft plan released Wednesday.

Patrick McKenna, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, said the agency will focus on preserving the state's transportation system as it receives less money from state and federal sources.

"Our Legislature and the citizens of Missouri have told us loud and clear to take care of this system. This plan does just that," McKenna said. "We focus limited resources on maintaining current conditions through every region of the state. However, limited funding enables us to only tread water. We improve roads and bridges at the same rate that others fall into disrepair."

Transportation spending has declined in recent years. The state spent $12.6 billion over the past 10 years, with average annual funding of $1.26 billion. During the next five years, average spending will fall nearly 30 percent, to $890 million a year.

MoDOT has focused on maintenance of vital highways and bridges as funding levels have fallen. But it cannot keep up with all of the needs in a statewide system of 33,873 miles of roads and 10,394 bridges.

"Without preventive maintenance, the cost of improving a road or bridge in poor condition can cost four to 10 times more," McKenna said.

MoDOT Transportation Planning Director Machelle Watkins told members of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission that the five-year draft plan includes 606 new projects for 2,252 miles of interstate pavement, 3,302 miles of major routes, 7,461 miles of minor routes and 497 bridges.

Most of the projects in Northeast Missouri involve resurfacing of pavement or bridge repairs.

Tom Batenhorst, MoDOT’s planning manager in the Hannibal district, region, said the agency is “trying to maintain the system as best we can with the resources we have.” In recent years that has meant the district repairs bridges and pavement that is in the worst condition, but often sees as many bridges or miles of pavement reaching that stage for future work.

“They’re on our radar and we know we’ve got to watch them,” Batenhorst said.

The draft 2018-2022 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program can be viewed at modot.org or at MoDOT district and regional offices. Comments on the plan may be made through June 2. The final plan is up for possible approval at the June 29 meeting of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.