Missouri's Transportation Department is getting more than $1.7 million to "test new ways to finance highway and bridge projects," the Federal Highway Administration announced Wednesday.
Missouri is one of seven states sharing $10.2 million in "Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives" (STSFA) grants, awarded under provisions of the federal "Fixing America's Surface Transportation" (FAST) Act.
Missouri's $1,782,500 grant is the third innovation grant MoDOT has received from the FHWA, to study the future of transportation funding under the STSFA program.
The state also received $250,000 in 2017 and $2.88 million in 2018.
In a news release, MoDOT said it will use the additional money "to continue to work with the Missouri Department of Revenue, to improve the efficiency and accuracy of its data systems" that are associated with Missouri's personal vehicle registration fee system.
Missouri's proposal for the federal grant is to consider changing how the state calculates its registration fee, which currently is based on "taxable horsepower" — a metric that, MoDOT noted, no longer is "calculated or published by vehicle manufacturers."
MoDOT's proposal is to base registration fees on a vehicle's fuel efficiency, as measured in miles per gallon.
In the FHWA news release, Deputy Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson said: "These grants provide states with the opportunity to explore innovative new ways to help pay for infrastructure improvements and maintenance."
The STSFA program's goal is to allow states to test user-based alternatives to support the federal Highway Trust Fund, which now relies primarily on the federal gas tax.
In addition to Missouri, the other states receiving grants are California, Delaware, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon and Utah.
The FHWA news release noted: "The seven projects will investigate and evaluate various mileage-based and road-user charges, including for trucks and automated vehicles, and the implementation and operation of the technologies at a regional level."