JEFFERSON CITY - Though the future is bleak for the state's transportation funding, a new state five-year highway construction program was approved today by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. But the new program is only half the size of recent years - about $600 million a year rather than the average of $1.2 billion. There's barely enough money to take care of the existing system, and Missourians will see very few new projects during the next few years that expand the system and make it safer.
"We've known this grim situation was coming," said Kevin Keith, Missouri Department of Transportation director, "We have fallen off a cliff.
"This sharp decline in funds means the investment that has supported Missouri jobs, improved our roads and bridges and increased safety is in jeopardy," said Keith. "We will continue to honor our commitments and maintain the condition of our roads and bridges to the best of our ability for as long as we can, but without additional resources our system will eventually get worse."
Moving forward, the state's transportation department will reach the point where it will not have enough state revenue to match federal funding, and that will mean Missouri will lose millions of dollars for transportation projects. The federal government allocates funding to states using a formula that requires states to match a percentage of the money.
To cope with this funding challenge, MoDOT is focusing on delivering commitments promised Missouri citizens - keeping major highways in good condition, improving smaller state roads and keeping pace with needed bridge repairs and maintenance. Through the Bolder Five-Year Direction the department is cutting internal costs and directing all available resources to taking care of existing roads and bridges.
"These cost savings are just a temporary fix, they do not solve our funding situation in the long term," said Keith. "There are consequences to operating with insufficient funds. It means the department will not be able to address economic development opportunities, deliver corridor improvements or replace major bridges."
The 2012-2016 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program lists transportation projects planned by state and regional planning agencies for fiscal years 2012 through 2016 (July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2016). A copy is available at http://www.modot.mo.gov/.