Just about everybody agrees the state has to improve Interstate 70, which competes with Interstate 44 as the flagship highway in Missouri. Those highways have a major impact on Missourians’ daily lives and on our economic climate.

I-70 is older than I-44 and is in need of major improvements. There is general agreement on the I-70 needs, it’s the way to finance the improvements that has Missourians at odds.

The Missouri Senate Transportation Committee is in the midst of hearings on a proposal to charge tolls to pay for the work. Others think a gasoline tax hike would be the best financial route. There also is some disagreement on the improvements to be made: Adding more lanes, installing new medians and building truck-only lanes are among the ideas floating around lawmakers and citizens.

Another animal in the highway rights of way is the fact that a good number of Missourians never travel on I-70. They have mixed feelings. However, they should be concerned because the overall economic conditions in the state depend on that highway, which has been called Missouri’s Main Street. It has that distinction because it links Missouri’s two metro areas, St. Louis and Kansas City. I-70 also has historical significance. It was the first interstate highway in the nation to link two major metro areas.

People must cast aside their provincialism and think MISSOURI!

The I-70 project is good for Missouri and its residents. Yes, it’s going to cost us some money, but with tolls the users pay. With an increase in the gasoline tax, which in the state is near the bottom in the country at 17 cents, every motorist pays including those out of state people traveling through the state who purchase gasoline. The gasoline tax also could speed construction on other road and bridge projects.

Perhaps a combination of a small gasoline tax hike and tolls would be the best plan.

Missourians should be given the opportunity to vote on a plan. The question is, will the members of the General Assembly give us that opportunity.