MO/I-70 tolls plan blocked by special interest lobbies - truckers, roadside stores
By Peter Samuel
Missouri senator Mike Kehoe (Repub, Jefferson City) who sponsored the bill (SB752) to allow tolls on I-70 says it is effectively blocked in the state senate transport committee. He is quoted in the StLouis Post Dispatch he'd most surprised fit he bill moves further this year.
Chairman of the committee Bill Stouffer (Repub) says there's public understanding of a problem in financing highways but says a referendum is probably needed before the legislature will go further with the measure.
Missouri DOT says I-70 from suburban St Louis west to suburban Kansas City needs reconstruction and widening. Going from 2x2 lanes to 2x3 lanes would cost about $2.5b. Another scheme to go to 4x2 lanes with separate car and truck lanes would cost about $4b.
It's about 195 miles, 313km, with no major hills or rivers.
The project was envisaged as toll concession under a PPP.
Missouri has long occupied one of three 'slots' for tolling understate under a US reconstruction pilot program. The Feds could take the tolling 'slot' away from Missouri if it becomes clear it won't be used.
That would make it available to Rhode Island or South Carolina which have sought a slot.
Kehoe says the bill has "increased awareness" of the issue.
Lobby groups working to block toll authority include the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, Missouri Trucking Association, and AAA.