T

he Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) has been unveiled and is open for public comment. It’s a five-year improvement program — 2019 to 2023.

The draft STIP plan includes 1,319 projects, which chiefly would maintain the system as it is today. According to MoDOT, on average the STIP annually invests in 586 lane miles of interstate pavements, 1,065 miles of major route pavements, 2,754 miles of minor route pavements and 172 bridges.

The STIP details an annual construction program of $900 million up from $850 million in fiscal 20l8. MoDOT says that funding is insufficient to meet the state’s unfunded high-priority transportation needs, which has been estimated at an additional $925 million per year. 

The STIP takes into account the highway commission action from January that increases cost-share funding to $30 million for 2021, $35 million for 2022, $40 million for 2023 and $45 million for 2024 and thereafter. Cost-sharing is a method of speeding up needed projects. 

Highway 100 from Washington to Interstate 44 is an example. The city with voter approval authorized a special sales tax to fund one-half of the cost. Without that cost-sharing with the state, that improvement would not have been possible at that time. 

The most serious need in Franklin County now is four lanes of Highway 47 from St. Clair to Washington. Would a cost-sharing program with the state speed up that project? Probably, but local funding would have to be made available. The local funding is possible but it would take enlightened leadership to get the money and voters would have to approve a tax.

There is interest statewide in cost-sharing with the state on needed highway and bridge projects.