The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has opened the comment period on the draft of its 2018-2022 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). It was presented to the highway commission recently.

The draft STIP includes 606 new projects that invest in 2,252 lane miles of interstate improvements, 3,302 miles of major route pavements, 7,461 miles of minor route pavements and 497 bridges.

It should be pointed out that Missouri has the nation’s seventh largest state highway system with 33,873 miles of roadways and 10,394 bridges.

MoDOT said its road and bridge system is a $54 billion asset that carries a $125 billion replacement cost.

The draft STIP lists transportation projects planned by state and regional planning agencies from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2022. The draft is available for comments by email, STIPcomments@modot.mo.gov, or by calling MoDOT at 1-888-275-6636, which is the customer service number. The comment period ends June 2, 2017.

We assume MoDOT expects to have the funds to follow through on this improvement program.

We also assume Area MoDOT Engineer Judy Wagner will brief Franklin County officials and the Washington Area Highways and Transportation Committee at its meeting later this month on the STIP. She does an excellent job on updating local officials on MoDOT plans.

The General Assembly batted .000 on providing an opportunity for new sources of revenue for MoDOT this past session. Not all, but too many of our lawmakers are too concerned about their standing with voters and they don’t want any kind of a tax hike attached to their records regardless of the need. 

Tax hikes can be sold to voters by providing details of what will be done with added revenue — making the case. It takes strong leadership to do that, but it can be done.