Last week, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he would be requesting $50 million in the 2020 infrastructure budget for a transportation cost-share program with local communities.
In the $2.9 billion proposed budget, 69 percent, or more than $2 billion, is earmarked for highway construction.
This announcement of a revitalized cost-sharing program may be the opening Franklin County — and the cities of Washington and Union — have been waiting for to proceed with the widening of the Highway 47 corridor between the two towns.
In early December, the cost-share idea was floated to members of the Missouri Highway Commission while they were holding their monthly meeting in Washington. Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker informed the commission several steps had already been taken to prepare the corridor for expansion and although the expansion is not shovel ready., he said it has a head start if state funds become available.
Brinker told the commission about the yearlong traffic study that was recently completed on the full 13-mile Highway 47 corridor from the Missouri River in Washington, through Union and on to St. Clair.
According to a study conducted over the past year, all of the long-term options to widen Highway 47 have costs in the $60 million range.
In all, the study offers seven major long-term options, all very similar in cost, which include some form of rerouting the highway.
In August, the $185,000 taxpayer-funded study on Highway 47 was presented and well-received by Missouri Department of Transportation officials.
Franklin County pledged $75,000, the cities of Union and Washington both pledged $50,000, and the Union and Washington Special Road districts put in $5,000 each to fund the study.
In 2005, 54 percent of Washington residents voted for a half-cent transportation sales tax to cost-share the Highway 100 improvements with the state.
The original cost estimate was $47 million for the project, which was constructed in two phases. The first was adding lanes from Highway 47 to the east city limits at a cost of $7.1 million. The second phase was from the east city limits to Interstate 44, with the cost of about $33.5 million.
With state roads and bridges deteriorating with each passing year and the state’s transportation funds dwindling, the cost-share program may be the only way new and rehabilitation projects may be completed.
In November, voters statewide rejected a fuel tax increase by a 53 to 46 percent margin, with 1,274,099 voting against and 1,101,830 in favor of.
The measure was designed to raise the gasoline tax by 2 1/2 cents each year for the next five, bringing it to a total of 27 cents.
Proposition D would have imposed a new gasoline tax on fuel sales to fund law enforcement and Missouri road projects.
If it were passed, the measure was estimated to generate $123 million annually to local governments for road construction and maintenance.
In Franklin County, despite endorsements by several municipalities and government entities, voters rejected the gasoline tax by a margin of 54 to 45 percent.
Overall, Proposition D had 23,036 Franklin County votes against it and 19,379 in favor of.