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MoDOT seeks feedback on transportation needs

by Ryan Pivoney | November 18, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
MoDOT graphic

The Missouri Department of Transportation's draft list of high priority unfunded transportation needs totals $10 billion.

The state agency unveiled the list Wednesday, with more than $528 million in projects that can be accomplished during the next five years as state and federal funding levels rise. It's inviting motorists to share their thoughts online and in-person during the next couple of weeks.

Central District projects total more than $624 million across the list's three tiers distinguishing levels of priority, multimodal projects and major bridge projects. The Central District includes Cole, Callaway, Moniteau, Boone, Osage, Maries, Miller, Morgan and 10 other counties.

MoDOT's High Priority Unfunded Needs list is long-range planning that feeds into the department's Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan. The STIP details funded road and bridge improvement projects the department intends to make during the next five years.

The current 2023-27 STIP totals $10 billion and is the largest in state history.

Last year, the department moved 113 projects worth $1.25 million from the unfunded list to the STIP.

The first tier of the unfunded needs list can likely be done in the next five years as MoDOT draws down more federal funding and the state's tax on gasoline incrementally rises to a total of 29.5 cents per gallon.

Mid-Missouri road and bridge projects account for $59.89 million of the first tier's $528 million total. The nearly $60 million will be spent on three projects in three separate counties.

The plan calls for $8 million for partial payment on capacity and safety improvements and the incorporation of pedestrian facilities at the Route 50, Truman Boulevard and Country Club Drive interchange in Cole County.

The first tier also has $39.4 million for capacity and safety improvements on Route 63 from north of Vienna to south of the city in Maries County, as well as nearly $12.5 million worth of capacity and safety improvements at the Route 63 and Route WW interchange in Boone County.

All three projects are intended to increase economic growth and improve safety, according to their classification on the unfunded needs list.

Tier two of the unfunded needs list includes more funding and more projects for the Central District, and overall with a total $2 billion worth of projects identified. Central District projects account for more than $225 million worth of that total.

In Cole County, capacity and safety improvements are eventually planned for:

• The Rex Whitton Expressway for $53.27 million.

• The interchange at U.S. Routes 50, 63 and 54 for $39.7 million.

• The Route 54, Ellis Boulevard, Southwest Boulevard interchange for nearly $18.7 million.

• The intersection of Dix Road and Route 50 for more than $8.8 million.

The unfunded needs list also calls for a $280,000 traffic study to address congestion and safety issues along Business 50 in Jefferson City.

In Moniteau County, $27.2 million worth of capacity and safety improvements are eventually planned for Route 50 from California to Tipton.

MoDOT creates a new High Priority Unfunded Needs list with local and regional planning groups annually.

Inflation's impact on construction costs could eat into the department's ability to move projects from the unfunded needs list to the STIP, MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna notes at the beginning of the draft document released Wednesday.

Project costs came in $139 million, or 11.3 percent, over budget in fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023 projects to date are more than 30 percent over budget. The STIP is fiscally constrained to program only 80 percent of estimated financial resources over the next five years.

"This troubling trend will limit the ability to move projects into the STIP in future years," McKenna wrote.

MoDOT is inviting public feedback on the draft unfunded needs list. Its online comment form is open through Dec. 21 and the Central District is hosting a public meeting from 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the ARC-Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash St. in Columbia.

Even further down the draft list of unfunded needs is $2 million worth of capacity and safety improvements on Business 50 at Westminster Avenue to Schultze Street in Fulton; $3.4 million worth of capacity and safety improvements at the U.S. Route 54 and Route F interchange in Fulton; and $49 million worth of capacity and safety improvements on Route 63 from north of Route P to north of Maries County Road 332.

Outside of road and bridge projects, there are several unfunded needs in the Central District.

The draft list identifies $25.5 million worth of construction needed at Jefferson City Memorial Airport, including building a new air traffic control tower, extending the runway and reconstructing the facility that houses aircraft rescue.

The state also identifies a need to contribute to the Heartland Port, with plans to eventually help fund land acquisition, road and bridge infrastructure and utility service. Estimates put the planned investment at nearly $10 million.

The unfunded needs list also calls for a $12.4 million bus facility replacement in Jefferson City and $1.7 million worth of Amtrak operation assistance in the Capital City. Sidewalks and a pedestrian bridge over Route 179 are also planned for $3.3 million.

MoDOT has identified reconstruction of Interstate 70 from east of Kansas City to west of St. Louis as a $2.75 billion unfunded need and the Amtrak River Runner train, which stops in Jefferson City daily, as another $20 million need.

Missouri has one of the largest transportation systems in the country with 33,825 miles of roadway and 10,387 bridges.

The state has spent approximately $10.7 billion on transportation maintenance projects over the past 10 years. The funds were distributed across 4,221 projects around the state.

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