Missouri transportation commissioners have approved a list of projects totalling $4.8 billion that would be funded by a 0.75 percent sales tax that voters will decide next month.
The wish list contains more than 800 projects, most of them road and bridge improvements. If passed, money would go to replacing or improving 330 bridges across the state and resurfacing more than 3,200 miles of roads. But the list also includes improvements at 24 airports, seven river ports, 14 railroads, and 71 sidewalks.
"They not only replace aging infrastructure, but take care of congestion and safety and those kind of things," said Ed Hassinger, chief engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation. "In every district, we're doing some major projects to replace aging infrastructure."
Projects in the St. Louis area include adding new lanes to Interstate 55 in Jefferson County, new lanes for Missouri Route 94 in St. Charles County, and a new interchange at Interstate 64 and 22nd Street in downtown St. Louis. Maps and the complete list of St. Louis-area projects can be found here.
The largest project on the list is the widening of Interstate 70 to six lanes between the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. The total cost for upgrading I-70 would be $1.5 billion, with the proposed sales tax providing about $500 million.
"We're going to replace some of our most aging infrastructure, get rid of bridges that are ready to crumble, and then also add a lane to that road to make it safer and solve our congestion problems, and spur economic development for the next 50 years," Hassinger said.
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission voted unanimously in favor of the final project list. Before the vote, Hassinger recapped the preparations for the list, which included 43 open house meetings across the state and around 1,200 public comments.
Commission members allowed more public comment after the vote from those attending Wednesday's commission meeting. Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP, told commission members that the list should have included more projects in Missouri's urban areas.
"The majority of the people who are going to wind up funding Amendment 7, if it passes, we all can agree (c0me from) a combination of the St. Louis and Kansas City regions," Pruitt said.
If passed, the sales tax would be levied over a 10-year period, generating $5.4 billion over that time. Opponents argue that the additional sales tax would hurt low-income and elderly Missourians. Some jurisdictions would see their total sales tax top 10 percent.
Highlights of projects outside the St. Louis area
Projects around the state are included in the final list:
- Projects in central Missouri include a new interchange on U.S. Highway 54 at the Lake of the Ozarks, an expansion of U.S. 50 to four lanes from California to Tipton, a new bypass around Tipton, and an expansion of U.S. 63 to four lanes along a new route through Osage County.
- Projects in the Kansas City area include improving the Interstate 29/I-35 interchange, new lanes and improved bridges on I-435, and the replacement of the U.S. 169 bridge over the Missouri River in downtown Kansas City.
- Projects in Southeast Missouri include adding lanes to U.S. Highway 412 from Kennett to the Arkansas border, adding lanes to U.S. 67 from south of Poplar Bluff to Arkansas, and improving the I-55/Missouri Highway 74 interchange in Cape Girardeau.
- Projects in Southwest Missouri include extending I-49 southward to the Arkansas border, upgrading state routes 171 and 249 to interstate standards from Carthage to I-44, and adding lanes to both U.S. 60 and U.S. 65 in the Springfield area.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport