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Consultant may be hired to study I-70 and I-44 rebuilding costs

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

9/24/07 – Legislative leaders in Missouri may hire a tax consultant to study the best way to rebuild interstates 70 and 44 across the state.

The Missouri House and Senate's plans for the two highways vary, which is why they're considering hiring someone to come up with a new funding plan.

Republican Senator Bill Stouffer of Saline County co-chairs the committee.

"We've got several funding mechanisms...what we need to do is find out how that affects different socio-economic groups. We're just trying to get an idea of what funding mechanism has the least impact on those that can least afford it," Stouffer said.

There are various plans among lawmakers on how to renovate the busy thoroughfares, which carry some of the heaviest truck traffic in the nation.

"We want an economist to look at how an increase in tolls would be added into the cost of goods at the shelf...do you pay more if you pay a one-cent sales tax, or do you pay more if you add in user fees?" Stouffer said.

Tolls and fuel taxes would both fall under the term "user fees."

Any new plan to restructure interstates 70 and 44 may take the form of a ballot initiative that could go before Missouri voters next year.

Meanwhile, the Joint Transportation Committee has postponed until mid-October a meeting to hammer out details of a contract for hiring a consultant.

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