Transportation | St. Louis Public Radio

Transportation

I-64 W traffic highway
Paul Sableman | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1rzN9Hd

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2019 could bring big infrastructure changes to Missouri, but local engineering and commerce experts say it could be hard for the state to compete for federal dollars.

The budget promises to “generate $1 trillion in infrastructure investment” by dedicating $200 billion over 10 years to projects like improving roads, expanding internet access in rural areas, and developing creative approaches to transit, energy, water and building. Of that, $100 billion would be awarded as competitive grants to states and local governments who pursue projects “demonstrating innovative approaches” to infrastructure.

An artist's rendition of what a solar roadway could look like.
Solar Roadways | http://bit.ly/29OOZKM

Updated Nov. 5, 2017 with a statement from Solar Roadways - The Idaho vendor that planned to work with the Missouri Department of Transportation on a solar road initiative is disappointed the pilot project did not work out. In an email, Scott Brusaw with Solar Roadways said it was a complicated contract.

AA Roads

While one legislative task force is touring the state to hear ideas about upgrading Missouri’s roads and bridges, another group of lawmakers is using an online survey to determine the best way to pay for it all.

Rep. Jeff Messenger, R-Republic, chairs the House Policy Development Caucus, which he said was formed to study “hard and difficult situations” in Missouri — including paying for transportation improvements.

Missouri Department of Transportation St. Charles County camera

Crumbling roads and old bridges have long been something lawmakers say they should work on.

Now, a task force created to study Missouri's transportation system will begin holding public meetings this week.

New Kingshighway Bridge opens to traffic

May 13, 2017
Amy Johnson and Dahlia Goldstein-Larocco, 7, do a yoga pose known as the bridge during the grand reopening of the Kingshighway Bridge May 13, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

One of the main routes connecting north and south St. Louis is open to traffic after two years of construction.

The Kingshighway Bridge just south of Interstate 44 closed in July 2015 so the 75-year-old structure could be rebuilt.

Commuters, residents and business owners celebrated the grand reopening Saturday by streaming across the bridge on foot, bicycle and golf cart before it opened to cars.

Companies like Uber say they employ cutting-edge technology to pick up riders and allow them to pay electronically.
File photo | Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio / Uber, MTC

Updated at 1:35 p.m. with bill passing — The three-year battle to get a ride-hailing bill to the governor’s desk is finally over.

The Missouri House overwhelmingly passed HB 130 on Thursday by a 144-7 vote, which would craft statewide regulations for Uber, Lyft and other app-based companies to operate anywhere in the state.

File photo

Patrick McKenna has begun his second year as director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, and he’s hoping for more understanding and results from Missouri lawmakers and Gov.-elect Eric Greitens.

Many of last year’s proposals to find more money for transportation went nowhere, including a bill to raise the state’s fuel tax and a ballot measure to raise cigarette taxes.  St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin sat down with McKenna to talk about why Missouri leaders and citizens can’t seem to agree on how to fund transportation.

A Nissan Leaf getting charged up in a parking lot.
Nissan

Motorists in Missouri will soon see new signs pointing to alternative fuel sources along interstate highways. The signage is part of a recently announced Federal Highway Administration effort to create 85,000 miles of alternative fuel corridors across the country.

The signs aim to ease "range anxiety," or motorists' worry that they will run out of fuel, for those who drive cars that run on electricity, propane, natural gas and hydrogen. The initiative could encourage such motorists to travel further.

Spporting the use of low-emission vehicles could help the nation reach its goal of cutting at least 80 percent of greenhouse gases by 2050, the FHA officials say.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews)

In Missouri, 27 percent of  carbon emissions are caused by the transportation sector, according to a national report. 

Local environmental advocates are using the findings by the nonprofit think tank, Frontier Group, to argue that providing more carbon-neutral transportation options could improve public health and safety. The report includes multiple policy recommendations to reduce transportation's impact on the environment, including incentives for consumers to purchase electric cars and creating more paths for pedestrians and bikers. 

This blowup hit Highway 54 in Callaway County during June's heat wave.
Provided by Missouri Department of Transportation

The recent heat wave has damaged several highways across Missouri, especially in the central part of the state.

At least a dozen incidents of buckling concrete, sometimes called "blow-ups," were called in to MoDOT during the recent heat wave. It occurs when the surface of a road expands at a crack or joint where water has seeped in.

I-64 W traffic highway
Paul Sableman | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1rzN9Hd

Since we launched the Curious Louis project last fall, we’ve received plenty of questions/musings/perplexed cries for answers regarding highways, byways and roadways in St. Louis. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh got answers to some of them by convening a panel of three experts.

Representatives from St. Louis City, St. Louis County and the state (MoDOT) joined the show:

Republican Sen. Doug Libla, of Poplar Bluff, says he hasn't heard much about progress on the proposed steel and aluminum smelting plants in southeast Missouri.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

A proposal to raise Missouri's fuel tax is getting attention again at the state Capitol.

Senate Bill 623, which would raise the tax by 6 cents a gallon, was considered Tuesday by a State House committee. It was passed earlier this month by the Senate.

Shell gas station
(via Flickr/dno1967b)

A revised version of a proposed fuel tax hike has received first-round approval in the Missouri Senate.

A substitute version of Senate Bill 623 was adopted Wednesday evening, which would raise the tax on both gasoline and diesel fuel to 23 cents per gallon from 17.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri's proposed $27 billion budget for next year is up for debate this week in the Missouri House.

Last week, House budget writers cut $7.6 million from the University of Missouri System's proposed budget over the way it handled last fall's racial protests and over a perceived cozy relationship with Planned Parenthood. Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, was unable to persuade House budget writers to restore the funding, but he plans to try again this week.

Second Boone Bridge demolition rescheduled for Monday

Mar 2, 2016
Missouri Department of Transportation St. Charles County camera

Updated March 2 with rescheduled demolition — The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to close the section of Interstate 64 leading up to and crossing the Missouri River between St. Charles and St. Louis counties for at least an hour on Monday, March 7. 

Weather permitting, the department will finish demolishing the 1930's era Boone Bridge. The bridge is no longer needed now that traffic has been moved to the adjacent 1980's era bridge and the new Boone Bridge. 

Missouri Department of Transportation St. Charles County camera

Transportation issues, including the possibility of raising the state's fuel tax, are expected to get a lot of attention this week from the Missouri Senate.

Senate Bill 623 would raise the tax on gasoline by 1.5 cents a gallon, and the tax on diesel fuel by 3.5 cents a gallon. Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, says he'll allow the bill's sponsor as much time has he wants to make his case.

(via Missouri Department of Transportation)

Gov. Jay Nixon and House and Senate leaders are squabbling over how to approach Missouri's transportation needs.

Nixon, a Democrat, and some Republican lawmakers want to raise the state's fuel tax to help fund roads and bridges, but GOP leaders oppose tax hikes and want to shift state funding to transportation from other programs, including welfare.

Shell gas station
(via Flickr/dno1967b)

Legislation being considered by the Missouri Senate would raise the state's fuel tax to provide more money for roads and bridges.

If passed, Senate Bill 623 would raise the state's tax on gasoline by 1.5 cents a gallon, to 18.8 cents a gallon. It would also raise the state tax on diesel fuel by 3.5 cents a gallon, to 20.8 cents a gallon.

Construction on I-70
Missouri Department of Transportation

Even though transportation experts have been sounding the alarm for years, lawmakers and voters haven’t come to a definitive solution to get money funds for the state's roads and bridges. A bid to raise the state’s sales tax foundered badly in 2014, while initiatives to institute tollways have gone nowhere.

Dave Schatz
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome state Sen. Dave Schatz to the program for the first time.

Schatz is a Republican hailing from rural Franklin County. The Sullivan native’s state Senate district encompasses western St. Louis County and all of Franklin County.

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