More than $38 million would be directed toward improvements on State Highway 47 in Franklin County if voters approve a three-quarter-cent sales tax increase for transportation projects Aug. 5.
The finalized list of projects that would be funded with the sales tax was approved this week by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.
Statewide, the list includes $4.8 billion in projects that would be funded over the 10 years the tax would be in effect.
Franklin County’s share over the decade would be about $51.2 million, with the majority going to improvements on Highway 47 from Steutermann Road in Washington to Interstate 44 in St. Clair.
The projects on the list are guaranteed to be funded if the tax passes, said Judy Wagner, Missouri Department of Transportation area engineer.
“If Amendment 7 gets passed, we will be building those projects over the next 10 years,” Wagner told The Missourian Thursday.
If the tax passes, construction on Highway 47 could possibly start within five years depending on how projects around the state are prioritized, Wagner said.
The transportation sales tax would not apply to the retail sale of food or prescription medicine.
Gov. Jay Nixon opposes the transportation sales tax, saying it would, “fall disproportionately on Missouri’s working families and seniors by increasing the cost of everyday necessities like diapers and over-the-counter medication, while giving the heaviest users of our roads a free pass.”
Highway 47 needs to be widened to improve safety and relive congestion, local officials say.
It has not been decided how the $38 million that would go to Highway 47 would be specifically spent.
Wagner noted that an environmental study must be conducted on the corridor, and that would show where the money should be spent.
However, officials are not moving forward with the environmental study, which could cost about $1 million, until it is known whether the tax passes.
The total cost of the Highway 47 project between Washington and St. Clair has been estimated at around $80 million, which means the money from the transportation sales tax would cover roughly half.
It is unclear where the other half of the funds would come from.
The hope is that federal funds would become available to help with the cost, Wagner said.
For Franklin County, the passage of the sales tax would mean “tremendous improvement to the infrastructure, and every corner of the county is getting touched with some sort of (safety improvement),” Wagner said.
MoDOT’s revenue is projected to “plummet” if the sales tax increase does not pass, she said.
“If the tax does not pass, we’re going to be facing tough decisions on how are we going to maintain the system we have in the condition we want to maintain it for only $325 million a year where we’re used to spending $485 million,” Wagner said.
Other projects for Franklin County on the finalized list are:
• $12.1 million or safety improvement projects at Route 100 between Route E and Gasconade County; Route FF between Route 47 and Route 30; Route 185 between Route H and north of Interstate 44; Route KK between Route 185 and Route 100; Route MM between Route 100 and Route T; Route O between Route AT and Shannon Lane; Route OO between Route 100 and Route F; Route YY between Route A and Route AJ; and Route BB between Route 50 and Route A.
• $410,000 for public transportation (fixed funding contribution to support the Transportation for Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities program). Wagner said that money would cover the cost of six buses.
The highways and transportation commission approved the list of projects that would be funded with the tax if it passes so voters will know in advance of the vote how the money would be used.
The Associated Press reported that “the biggest project on the list is the reconstruction and widening of 200 miles of Interstate 70 between the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. It would receive $500 million from the sales tax, with the rest of the $1.5 billion project paid for through existing revenue sources.”