Billions Headed to Missouri Transportation Fund from Gas Tax Hike, Infrastructure Bill
November 12, 2021: Missouri Independent
With $6.5 billion on the way from the federal infrastructure bill and a newly increased gas tax, Missouri is ready to take a big bite out of $4.5 billion in unfunded highway needs, Patrick McKenna, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, said this week.
Instead, McKenna said in an interview with The Independent that the extra funding will be directed to as many of the more than 400 unfunded projects as possible.
The choice, McKenna said, “is one project or hundreds of projects with critical safety needs from all over the state.”
To make sure that is what Missourians want, the department will hold public hearings over the next three weeks to receive comments on the unfunded needs. The projects that can be funded will be included in the next Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP.
That five-year program, updated annually in June, lays out what MODOT expects it can build with available money. The most recent plan anticipates spending $1.1 billion annually.
“We want it all buttoned up by mid-December, to inform the commission and MODOT for building the next STIP,” McKenna said. “We will incorporate estimated revenue from the motor fuel tax tax and increases in resources from federal sources.”
“Our coming STIP is going to be pretty aggressive,” McKenna said. “But it will not fund all the currently identified unfunded needs.”
One item in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for Missouri, according to a news release from Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, include:
- $246 million to improve airports and river ports;
The infrastructure funding is dedicated to particular needs but Missouri is also sitting on billions with fewer restrictions. At the end of October, the state was holding $1.34 billion from the American Rescue Plan signed by Biden in February and more than $2 billion in surplus general revenue from state income and sales taxes. The department will ask lawmakers for some of that money, McKenna said.
“It will be up to policy makers to determine if some of those other funding sources would be more suitable for that investment than not,” McKenna said.
Missouri’s high-priority of unfunded needs report is still in draft format. The state transportation system is a tremendous asset to the citizens of Missouri. Looking forward, $6 billion is estimated to be available for projects over the next five years. Although Missouri’s current road and bridge program has focused on keeping our transportation system in its current condition, MoDOT’s publication, The Citizen’s Guide to Transportation Funding in Missouri, identifies $1 billion in high-priority, unfunded annual transportation needs.
Improving multimodal transportation options is just one area of focus for MoDOT – Many Missourians rely on non-highway modes of transportation; however, the state currently invests very little money toward those needs. Missouri’s transit systems, railroads, ports, waterways, airports and bicycle/pedestrian facilities could begin to see much needed improvements with an annual investment of $95 million each year.
Of the unfunded multimodal transportation funding needs, the following pertain to ports (estimated $1,000):
- Marion County for port, port authority, and stastical area grant program;
- Kansas City Urban District for improvements for ports, aviation and rail;
- Cole County for design for proposed port development and infrastructure, extend utility services and bridge, road infrastructure and property acquisition at Heartland Port;
- Cooper County to install deadman for winch system, phase 2 dolphin structures, port telestacker conveyor, property elevation raising, removal of wing dam and add 4 grain bins at Howard Cooper County Port
- Jefferson County to add Herculaneum container consolidation port facilities at Riverview Commerce Park;
- Genevieve construction of inner freight loop, walkway/loading ramp for riverboat stops and construct 3rd mooring at New Bourbon Port;
- Extension to track north to bridge 5 and ground storage for loop track terminal at SEMO Port;