For the past five years, Missouri's state highway construction program has averaged $1.2 billion a year. The Missouri Department of Transportation has presented a new, five-year construction program to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission that's only half that amount -- about $600 million a year.
What does such a sharp decline in funding mean to Missourians?
"It means the investment that has supported Missouri jobs is in jeopardy," said MoDOT Director Kevin Keith "It means the investment that has helped save lives is in jeopardy, and it means the investment that supports Missouri's economy and touches every industry in the state from agriculture to healthcare is in jeopardy."
Moving forward, the transportation department will reach the point where it will not have enough state revenue to match federal funding, and that will mean the state will lose millions of dollars for transportation projects. The federal government allocates funding to the states using a formula that requires the states to match a percentage of the money.
"This is not a surprise," Keith said. "We knew this day was coming. We've fallen off of the cliff. We're at the bottom, and now we have to pull ourselves up, scrape the dust off and figure out what we can do to increase funding for transportation."
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. The department is cutting internal costs and directing all available resources to taking care of existing roads and bridges.
"While these cost savings provide a temporary fix, they do not solve our funding situation in the long term," said Keith.
The draft 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). The proposed program is available for public review beginning May 5. Citizens interested in seeing the program or offering comments can contact MoDOT's customer service centers at 1-888 ASK MODOT (275-6636). The program is also available on MoDOT's web site - http://www.modot.org/ - and at MoDOT's district offices around the state. The formal public comment period ends June 3.
Following the public review, the comments will be presented to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The commission will review the comments and the final transportation program before considering it for approval July 13.