During its recently completed session, the Missouri General Assembly passed a measure that would let voters decide whether to increase the state sales tax to pay for improvements to highways and for other transportation needs. This action is interesting for a couple of reasons.
First is the underlying assumption that voters are in fact capable of making an informed decision about how to generate revenue for the state.
After four years under construction and more than a decade of planning, the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge will open for traffic Sunday, February 9. And when the bridge opens, so does another option for drivers making the commute across the Mississippi.
“What we anticipate is about 20 percent of the traffic coming off Poplar Street, about 50 percent coming off MLK/Eads,” Randy Hitt of the Missouri Department of Transportation said.
Proponents of a transportation sales tax were dealt a big blow last year when a legislative effort died at the last minute. But that doesn’t mean they’re giving up on putting a 1-cent sales tax increase before voters.
A new railroad bridge over the Osage River between St. Louis and Jefferson City is now open for both passenger and freight train use.
The new bridge cost $28 million, with most of the funds coming from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo says the project came in under budget and ahead of schedule.
However, the state currently cannot afford to implement it.
MoDOT Director Dave Nichols says it would cost more than $70 Billion to fund all the suggestions they've received from Missouri residents, and that his agency is currently estimated to only have $17 billion available over the next 20 years.
State transportation officials will meet in Jefferson City later this week to approve road projects for the next four years, and as it has for several years, funding available for the St. Louis region continues to shrink.
Transportation officials met with residents and property owners in Normandy Thursday about a new project that will reduce vehicle traffic and increase pedestrian and bicycle use on Natural Bridge Road.