It was not scare tactics to say unless there is more funding for Missouri’s road and bridge system expect less needed improvements on what we have, and forget about new major construction. With the defeat of the sales tax for transportation Tuesday, unless more revenue is forthcoming in the next couple of years, some roads are going to become less safer to travel and some old bridges will be closed. This is a fact — not idle talk.
The vote on the three-fourths of a cent sales tax for 10 years was decisive — 59 percent of the voters who cast a ballot said no. The tax would have produced an estimated $540 million annually. The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) had compiled a list of more than 800 projects that would have been funded. The major one was adding a lane in each direction to the dual-lane Interstate 70 from St. Louis to Kansas City.
For residents of Franklin County the defeat of the tax has doomed the addition of lanes to the heavily traveled Highway 47 between Washington and St. Clair, and other needed improvements. The Highway 47 stretch between Washington and St. Clair is bumper to bumper driving in sections, especially north of Highway 50 at Union. With that kind of traffic now and with more congestion expected in the coming years, safety is going to be a serious issue. Many East Central College students from the north travel the highway. That’s an additional safety concern for them. Another negative factor for the county is economic development. When a prospect sees that kind of traffic bottleneck, and recognizes that workers at our industrial plants travel some miles to work, the impression is negative.
We all recognize there is a growing dislike of any kind of tax increase for whatever, regardless of the need, and less than 100 percent trust in our governmental bodies, so what we have is a standstill condition which leads to gradual slippage into deterioration.
There is a general lack of leadership on the transportation issue in our state. There isn’t any creative thinking on solving problems or successful efforts to bring people together on solving transportation problems.
Missouri once was the leader in the nation in building interstate highways. That was because of the vision our transportation officials and government leaders had. We were ready to move when federal funding became available. Interstate 70 between St. Louis and Kansas City was the first interstate highway in the nation to link two major cities. Our leaders had gifted vision. That is lacking today. Also lacking is any concerted effort by our elected representatives to demonstrate leadership on transportation.
Where is the leadership among our elected officials? We once had it! Missouri is a failure in transportation because of a lack of leadership!