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Missouri Toll Roads Plan Already Controversial

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Illinois has tollways like these in the Chicago area. Such roads are banned in Missouri, unless voters okay a change. (state of Illinois photo)

By Bill Raack, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – A proposal to revive the idea of toll roads in Missouri is generating controversy even before the Legislature returns to Jefferson City next week.

Republican Senator John Loudon of Ballwin is behind the effort to put the issue of toll roads back before state voters. Such a question has been rejected at the ballot box in Missouri twice, in 1970 and 1992.

But Loudon says his plan is different and would apply to new construction only.

"We don't have any idea where the money's going to come from to rebuild [Hwy.] 40, we have no idea where the money's going to come from to build the new Mississippi River Bridge," Louden said. "But if you could float bonds and start building those roads today and retire that debt with the tolls, you've gained by accelerating funding, number one, and number two, you've got other people helping to pay for it."

Opponents of the concept say that toll plazas are too expensive and toll roads are an unfair burden on taxpayers.

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