Transportation

(via Flickr/Be.Futureproof)

It was a deadly holiday weekend for motorists in Missouri.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says 17 people were killed between 6 p.m. Wednesday and just before midnight today. An additional 157 people were injured, and state troopers arrested nearly 200 people in for driving while intoxicated. 

Both those numbers are significantly higher than last year's totals, but troopers only tallied 30 hours worth of data last year. This year's count was nearly three times as long.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

In a new report Wednesday, Missouri received a lackluster grade on its infrastructure. Citing “pressing issues,” the American Society of Civil Engineers graded Missouri as a C- overall.

Missouri’s Speaker of the House, Republican Tim Jones of Eureka, said it proves several goals of the just-ended legislative session were worth focusing on.

/Via Flickr/ KOMU news, Manu Bhandari

A group of Republicans in the Missouri Senate has blocked a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a one-cent sales tax to help fund the state’s transportation needs.

The tax would require voter approval and would expire after 10 years unless voters renew it. Five percent of revenues raised would be designated for cities and another five percent for counties to pay for local transportation needs.  Those factors were not enough to sway several Republicans, including Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, who conducted a filibuster Tuesday night.

(via Flickr/NathanReed)

When it comes to successfully or unsuccessfully governing and managing communities, leadership decisions can make or break a city or region.

St. Louis has been cited as a city “that let greatness slip away over the 20th century.”  That’s the contention of Colin Gordon, Professor of History at the University of Iowa, in his book, Mapping Decline…St. Louis and the Fate of the American City.

via Flickr/TeamSaintLouis (Army Corps of Engineers)

Updated: 4/1/13 at 4:12, after the meeting took place.

Transportation advocates say that by 2018, 1 out of every 3 miles of roads in Illinois will be of unacceptable condition, unless there are new sources of revenue. The Transportation for Illinois Coalition held a meeting with business leaders and state lawmakers in O’Fallon Monday to discuss what can be done.

Cars are becoming more fuel efficient – it’s good for drivers, who get to save more money, and it’s better for the environment. What it isn’t good for, however, is transportation funding.

via Flickr/KOMUnews

A proposed constitutional amendment that would create a temporary one-cent sales tax to fund transportation needs has passed the Missouri Senate.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Some concerns have been raised in the Missouri Senate over a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a temporary one-cent sales tax to fund transportation needs.

The one-penny sales tax is expected to raise nearly $8 billion over ten years.  All money raised would go directly to the Missouri Dept. of Transportation (MoDOT), and that provision is not sitting well with some Senators.  Republican Kurt Schaefer of Columbia says lawmakers should have at least some say into how that money would be spent.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation has been filed in the Missouri Senate that would create a temporary sales tax dedicated to funding transportation needs statewide.

The proposed constitutional amendment would create a one-cent sales tax that would expire after 10 years.  It’s co-sponsored by State Senator Mike Kehoe (R, Jefferson City).  He says the one-penny tax would not be levied on groceries, prescription medicine or fuel.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

A panel appointed by the Missouri House to study the state’s transportation needs released its final report today, one day before the start of the 2013 legislative session.

It states that Missouri needs an additional $600 million to $1 billion a year – for several years – to maintain roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure.  The report lays out several options for meeting that gap, but doesn’t recommend any specific funding methods.  Retired Democratic State Senator Bill McKenna co-chaired the Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri's Transportation Needs.  He says some of the options won’t appeal to the Republican majority.

Pasa47 / Flickr

Some Metro Transit riders saw new fare boxes as they boarded buses today.

The agency is testing the new fare boxes, which look a little like vending machines, on 40 of its buses.

The new fare boxes don’t allow customers to drop all of their money into the machines at the same time, and Metro Transit spokeswoman Dianne Williams said that change has been the source of most early complaints.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Sales tax holiday this weekend in Missouri - except for a few municipalities

It will be a big weekend for back-to-school shopping in Missouri as the state's annual sales tax holiday runs Friday through Sunday. School supplies, clothing items under $100, and personal computers under $3,500 are among the goods that will be exempt from the state's 4.2 percent tax.

Cities and counties can choose to opt out and charge local taxes, but as Missouri Department of Revenue spokesman Ted Farnen says many are taking part.

If you're a rider of public buses in St. Louis, you may see a newer vehicle pull up to your regular stop - in a couple of years.

Metro, which operates public transportation in the St. Louis region, has received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, announced the grant via a press release Wednesday.

MoDOT

A panel created by the Missouri House to review the state's transportation needs met Monday in Columbia.

Most of the testimony heard by the Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri's Transportation Needs centered on improving the state's highways, and whether those improvements should include a toll road -- be it I-70 or another major highway.  Bob Gilbert with the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce told the panel that the state should also upgrade U.S. Highway 50.

Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

Crews building the new span across the Mississippi River north of downtown St. Louis have hit an important project milestone - the completion of the twin 400-foot towers. Within a week, workers will start stringing cables from the towers to support the 1,500-foot main span.

"This is great," said project manager Greg Horn with the Missouri Department of Transportation. "These towers were one of the big things we had to get done."

There's no easy part of the project this massive, Horn said, but crews are feeling a sense of relief.

J Wynia / Flickr

Last night the East-West Gateway Council of Governments wrapped up a series of open houses for Missouri residents who have questions about the agency’s $2 billion transportation plan.

Earlier this month the organization that oversees regional ground transportation projects released its funding report for the next three fiscal years.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Metro sees double-digit increase in bus passengers

St. Louis’ mass transit agency saw the biggest growth in bus ridership in the country during the first three months of the year.

St. Louis Public Radio

Construction at the UMSL South station will lengthen some commutes on Metro this weekend by 20-25 minutes.

MetroLink trains will run on a single track between the Wellston and North Hanley stations on Friday, causing 5-10 minute delays on the Red Line.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Citizen's committee wants to know what public wants in transportation

A series of statewide meetings designed to take the pulse of transit needs in Missouri kicks off in Chesterfield later today.

House Speaker Steven Tilley put together the Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri Transportation Needs in early March. Tilley said in a statement that he wants to "start a conversation" to ensure that Missouri’s transit system fosters economic growth. Members include transportation, political, business and union leaders.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews)

It appears unlikely that Missouri lawmakers will pass any legislation this year that would turn Interstate Highway 70 into a toll road.

Senate Transportation Chairman Bill Stouffer (R, Napton) says the proposal has gotten a lot of negative feedback.

“We had excellent hearings this year, but it became very clear that until we raise the awareness of the public and the need in the public that we would be spinning our wheels to move any further," Stouffer said.

(via Flickr/binkle_28)

Updated 2:20 p.m.

Metro tweeted from their official account at 2:11 p.m. that "Fiber optic cable has been restored and MetroLink and trains resuming normal service."

Original Story:

Commuters who use MetroLink, listen up: a damaged fiber optic cable will add to your travel time today.

Metro Transit - St. Louis

Warmer weather, a sunnier economy, and higher gas prices are driving more riders to public transportation in St. Louis. Overall Metro ridership was up 8 percent in the last half of 2011 compared to the previous year. 

Dianne Williams is Metro's director of communications.

"Twenty-three million times someone stepped on a metro bus, a metro train, or a metro caller ride. That's up about 2 million boardings from the same period last year," Williams said.

(via Flickr/Matthew Black)

Starting next month, passengers who ride MetroLink or Metro buses will be be able to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables at certain transit centers.

The mass transit agency is partnering with the Sappington Farmers Market community program, Mobile Market, to sell locally-grown farm foods in areas where nearby residents have little or no access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

The stops are:

(Manu Bhandar/KOMU)

Gov. Jay Nixon says voters should decide whether to install tolls along Interstate 70, though he would not say if he supports the idea.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

More than $44 million in federal transportation money is headed to Illinois for two projects in the Chicago area and one in Alton in southern Illinois.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is to announce the funding Thursday at a Chicago "L" station with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It's part of more than a half-billion dollars in federal transportation funding for 46 projects in 33 states.

(via Flickr/Senator McCaskill)

Two U.S. senators are proposing legislation to cut payroll taxes, boost transportation funding and restrict regulation.

Missouri Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill and Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, on Tuesday announced their proposed legislation.

The federal lawmakers say the legislation will boost jobs. They also called it an example of what bipartisanship can produce.

(via Flickr/Senator McCaskill)

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. has proposed shifting money from development in Afghanistan to roads and bridges in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Defense pays for projects through the Commanders' Emergency Response Program and the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt took to the Senate floor today to speak out against President Barack Obama’s proposed transportation measure.

Obama has been pressing Congress to pass the transportation part of his stalled jobs bill that provides $50 million for roads and bridges.

The Senate is expected to vote today on whether to take up the measure. Blunt says the bill is a waste of time and will not pass.

(via Flickr/lordsutch)

A Democratic Congressman from Missouri has proposed giving transit agencies across the country more flexibility in how they spend federal transit dollars.

Rep. Russ Carnahan says despite millions of dollars from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (better known as the stimulus bill), more than 85 percent of transit systems across the country had to cut service, raise fares, or both - even as more and more people came to rely on transit.

That, Carnahan says, is because the federal money has to go toward capital purchases like new buses.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Calling it a "matter of survival" for his agency, Missouri Department of Transportation director Kevin Keith unveiled a five-year restructuring plan this morning that will eliminate 1,200 jobs, close 135 facilities, and sell more than 740 pieces of equipment.

Bike commuters have a new home in downtown St. Louis

Apr 20, 2011
Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

The City of St. Louis has taken steps to become friendlier for bike commuters.

The new downtown St. Louis Bike Station opens on Thursday.  The project was funded through a $180,000 grant from the Department of Energy.

The project is currently administered through the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis but will eventually be handed off to Trailnet.

Maggie Campbell is the President of the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis.  She says the site will offer a full range of services for bike commuters.

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