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.
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.
Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:
According to the St. Louis Post- Dispatch, incoming Missouri speaker of the House Steve Tilley says he may refuse to seat a new representative from Kansas City because of allegations of voter fraud in the Democratic primary. Such a move is allowed under Missouri law, but is rare. The Post-Dispatch reports that Tilley was presented this month with a nearly 100 page document alleging widespread voter fraud from failed Democrat candidate Will Royster, who lost he primary in the 40th legislative district to John J. Rizzo by a single vote. Rizzo went on to win the general election against a Libertarian candidate. Tilley's move would cast a light on a a topic Republicans in Missouri have been pushing unsuccessfully for several years; the concept of requiring every voter to present a photo ID when voting. Rizzo called Royster's complaints "sour grapes."
Missouri lawmakers are again seeking ideas from the public for restructuring state government to cut costs. Las year, the Senate took a rare break from formal floor debates to consider ideas for restructuring stat government that were submitted by Missourians. Republican Senate leader Rob Mayer says he plans to do it again in the first weeks of the annual legislative session that starts next month. Mayer, of Dexter, says lawmakers need to consider any idea about how to cut spending. Ideas can be submitted anonymously online at a Senate Web page on rebooting state government.
2011 will see some major work on the Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River. Metro, which owns the bridge, says time and weather have deteriorated the 136-year-old structure. Metro President John Nations says the agency will use $24.5 million in federal stimulus funds to replace and repair structural elements on the bridge, as well as apply a protective coating on the steel.
"We'll also be doing some improvements to our tracks in that area to also enhance our system. So it's going to be a big project and the region, I know, is interested in it. I actually get asked about it a lot simply because the Eads Bridge is such a big symbol for this region and for the Midwest. " - Nations
Nations says the road on the top deck of the Eads will have to be closed for two to three months while the work on the bridge takes place.
Fresh off the midterm elections last month, new Missouri Congress members Republicans Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long have been assigned to committees dealing with defense, agriculture and transportation issues.