The Early Years
- Around 1735, the first unofficial road in Missouri was
called Three Notch Road.
- In 1808, The King's Highway, from St. Louis to southeast
Missouri, became the first legally designated road west
of the Mississippi River.
- Some of the first roads in Missouri were made with wooden
- In 1893 a St. Louisan named J. D. P. Lewis built a "self-propelled
vehicle," the city's first.
- The first speed limit in Missouri was set in 1903 at
9 miles per hour.
- The world's first gasoline station was started in 1905
in St. Louis by C. H. Laessig. The gasoline was delivered
through a garden hose. Before then, gasoline was purchased
by the can at grocery stores.
Prior to 1907, highway improvements were left entirely
to the counties, most of which were without trained or experienced
engineers. Nor was there coordination of planning among
the counties. With the introduction of the motor vehicle,
highway transportation needs were not being met; and it
became evident that insurmountable road deficiencies were
no longer manageable at the county level.
1907 - Missouri Legislature creates the position of state highway
engineer, reporting to the Board of Agriculture.
1913 - State Highway Department created by the Legislature.
1916 - Congress passes federal highway act, which makes federal
funds available to states based on area, population and
postal road mileage.
1917 - Missouri Legislature passes Hawes Law so Missouri can
receive federal funds and also creates State Road Fund
and a four-member State Highway Board.
1920 - $60 million bond issue passes to "get Missouri
out of the mud."
1921 - Formal department operations are established when the
Legislature passes the Centinnial Road Law, creating a
four-member State Highway Commission and the positions
of secretary, chief engineer and chief counsel.
1924 - Proposition 5 passes, creating the state's first fuel
tax, 2-cents per gallon.
1928 - Missouri becomes the first state to earmark and protect
funds for highway purposes.
1931 - State Highway Patrol is created.
1937 - Missouri Legislature makes it "unlawful" to
drive any motor vehicle on any highway of the state without
either an operator's or chauffeur's license.
1952 - Fuel tax increases to 3 cents per gallon.
1952 - Department takes over responsibility for almost 12,000
miles of county highways, bringing 95 percent of all Missiourians
to within two miles of a hard-surfaced road.
1956 - Missouri becomes first state in the nation to take bids
and begin construction on the interstate highway system.
1961 - Fuel tax increases to 5 cents per gallon; County Aid
Road Trust (CART) Fund created.
1965 - The commission's membership is increased by the Legislature
from four to six members.
1972 - Fuel tax increases to 7 cents per gallon.
1974 - Missouri State Department of Transportation created.
1980 - Missouri Highway Department and Transportation Department
merge creating the Missouri Highway and Transportation
1987 - Proposition A passes and increases motor fuel tax by
4 cents per gallon.
1988 - Department district boundaries change.
1992 - A 6-cent per gallon motor fuel tax is passed by the
Legislature, to be phased in over a five-year period.
1994 - The department commits to the Short-Term Action Plan
to complete priority projects within a four-year period.
1996 - Legislation passes stating the department shall be known
as the Missouri Department of Transportation.
1998 - Accountability legislation passes requiring MoDOT to
submit an annual report to the legislature by November
10 and creating the position of MoDOT director.
1999 - Department adopts a rolling 5-Year Plan for highway
and bridge improvements in the state. The 15-Year Plan
is no longer used by MoDOT as the financial blueprint
for construction projects.
2000 - Legislation was passed, effective May 30, 2000, allowing MoDOT to issue $2.25 billion in bond financing to accelerate highway improvements.
2002 - Legislation is passed extending the 6-cents-per-gallon motor-fuel tax, which was due to expire in 2008. Proposition B, an omnibus transportation bill that would have increased the motor-fuel tax by 4 cents per gallon and the general sales tax by 1/2 percent, is defeated by voters by a 3-to-1 margin.
2004 - In November, Missouri voters approved Constitutional Amendment 3, which requires all revenues collected from the sale of motor vehicles come to MoDOT.
2008 - The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approves the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program to repair or replace 802 of Missouri’s worst bridges in five years.
2011 - Funding issues and other factors force a restructuring of the department. MoDOT moves from 10 districts to seven to consolidate and streamline operations.
Highway and Transportation Department was formed when voters
approved Constitutional Amendment 2 in November 1979. The
amendment merged the previously separate Highways and Transportation
departments. Legislation passed in 1996 changed the department's
name to the Missouri Department of Transportation. The department
operates under a decentralized organization with headquarters
in Jefferson City. This General Headquarters office provides
staff assistance and functional control for the various
departmental tasks in 7 geographical
district is under the direction of a district engineer,
who is in turn responsible for administering all department
activities in the region.
Two divisions within the General
Headquarters are responsible for bridge design and highway
planning for the state. Decisions about local highway construction,
maintenance or operations are made at the district level.
transit, aviation and railroads are established as units
within the headquarters office and report to a transportation
director, who reports to the deputy chief engineer. These
units carry out the statewide planning for these modes;
there are no counterparts in the districts. The Department
of Transportation operates in a quality improvement environment
to accomplish its mission to preserve, enhance and support
Missouri's Transportation Systems.
MoDOT has responsibilities for
five major transportation alternatives available to Missourians
-- highways, aviation, waterways, transit and railroads.
Those responsibilities include the total operation of the
33,600 mile highway system, including highway location,
design, construction and maintenance.
In addition, the department cooperates
and coordinates with owners and operators of the four other
modal systems in the development and improvement of airports,
rail facilities, ports and the operational cost of transit
systems. Key here also is the administration of state/federal
programs and funds available with these modes.
MoDOT's principal sources
of state revenue are motor vehicle fuel taxes, licenses
and fees and part of one-half of the motor vehicle sales
tax. A small amount of revenue comes from incidental sources
as fees from the sale of blueprints and maps. Voter-approved
bond issues of $60 million in 1920 and $75 million in 1928
helped fund early road building programs. Bond principal
and interest were paid from revenues provided by highway
users. All road bonds in Missouri were retired on June 15,1957.
Additional revenue was generated
in a special November 6, 1979, state election. Voters approved
Amendment 2 -- a measure providing revenue through reallocation
of part of one-half of the motor vehicle sales tax revenue
to the department. Of this revenue, 75 percent went to the
Highways and Transportation Department. Counties received
a 10 percent share and cities received the remaining 15
Missouri voters approved a road
and bridge improvement program on April 7, 1987, that increased
the motor fuel tax from 7 to 11 cents per-gallon, increased
heavy truck registration fees 10 percent and placed a cap
on administrative expenses going to other state agencies.
In April 1992, in response to new federal transportation
legislation and the need to put Missourians back to work,
the Missouri Legislature increased the motor fuel tax by
2-cents per gallon in 1992,1994 and 1996.
Coupled with this tax increase was a road and bridge improvement
program, the 15-Year Plan, that was projected to complete
hundreds of transportation projects across the state from
1992-2007. In November 1998, the Missouri Highway and Transportation
Commission approved a MoDOT staff recommendation to adopt
a more realistic 5-Year Plan. This short-term highway
and bridge construction schedule is designed to meet
the high priority needs of Missouri. Projecting project
costs and funding out over an extended period of years is
The Centennial Road Law of 1921
provided for the creation of a system of connected state
highways. Under the terms of this law and subsequent legislation
and constitutional amendments, more than 33,600 miles of
state highways have been constructed and improved through
the years. These highways connect principal population centers,
county seats and small communities within the state.
The following table gives
summary statistics regarding Missouri's state highway system
as of November 2010.