ST. LOUIS - The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or "STIP," approved today by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, is focused on safety and the preservation of the existing system of state highways and bridges.The 2017-2021 STIP is the Missouri Department of Transportation’s list of projects that are planned by state and regional agencies. The draft STIP was released in May for public review and comment. “It’s our commitment to our customers for the next five years,” said MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna.And although it’s a larger program than those approved the last two years, it still does not enable MoDOT to tackle high-priority needs like the reconstruction and expansion of Interstate 70, the investment in expansion projects that increase economic growth, create jobs and reduce congestion, or to stabilize its level of services and to improve the condition of its bridges and minor roads.“We have a long-term insufficient funding challenge if Missourians want more from their state’s transportation system,” he said.Whereas the last two years, only a limited number of new projects were added to the rolling five-year plan because of a potential severe drop in the MoDOT construction budget, changing economic conditions make this year’s STIP more robust. Increased state revenues, predictable federal funding as a result of Congress’ passage of the FAST Act in December 2015, and MoDOT’s ongoing efforts to seek federal reimbursement for preventive maintenance activities have resulted in more funding available for the STIP.Consequently, 855 projects were added to the 2017-2021 STIP that has $3.97 billion available for construction awards, ranging from $700 million in 2017 to $860 million in 2020 and 2021. The overwhelming majority of projects – 88 percent – are designed to take care of MoDOT’s existing system.The 2017-2021 STIP lists transportation projects planned by state and regional planning agencies for fiscal years 2017 through 2021 (July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2021).