Missouri Has $6 Billion Budget Surplus Should We Use It To Widen I-70?
Here's some news. Missouri has a $6 billion dollar budget surplus, and one lawmaker thinks the State shouldn't sit on the cash but put some of it into widening Interstate 70 to three or four lanes between St. Louis and Kansas City. This is according to a report from KOMU 8 TV. What do you think, would that be a good idea?
KOMU 8 TV says, the bill, filed by state Senator Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring would take any general revenue surplus in excess of $4 billion dollars and put it towards the project to rebuild Interstate 70 between St. Louis and Kansas City. Additionally, his bill would dedicate 2% of ongoing revenue to the project every year, for ten years. KOMU says this year that would be about $300 million dollars. Eigel says that could generate $9 billion dollars for the project.
For years Interstate 70 has caused motorists driving between St. Louis and Kansas City headaches. One of my friends who does drive I-70 regularly, posts pictures of being stuck in traffic on Facebook all the time. Interstate 70 around Kansas City and St. Louis seems to be congested all the time, at least most of the times I've driven through either city. And certainly, it seems like there needs to be some work done in and around Columbia.
Yet, does I-70 need to be three lanes the entire way between St. Louis and Kansas City? Is it necessary? I don't drive it enough to make that call myself. Although I'd say it's worth some discussion.
Most of the time when I drive it, which is from Warrensburg to St. Louis, and then on to Chicago I don't notice much congestion in the more rural segments of the trip. Roughly from getting on the Interstate in Higginsville, through just before the Rocheport bridge, I rarely experience congestion on my drives. Then, once I get through Columbia I don't notice much congestion until I'm near the St. Louis suburbs. So, is it worth three lanes the entire way?
KOMU says Interstate 70 is one of the first Interstate highways to be built in the 1950s, and MoDOT has been warning it needs major reconstruction. Ten years ago, then MoDOT Director Kevin Keith predicted the Interstate would become a gravel parking lot within 15 years. We're a lot closer to that today, yet funding that type of project has proven elusive.
A potential problem with Eigel's proposal is, it puts the entire burden of paying for the rebuild on Missouri residents because Missouri has already committed its federal highway funds to other projects.
That doesn't even get into other questions. Such as, if the State of Missouri is sitting on $6 billion dollars in extra cash. Shouldn't the State's residents get some sort of break on taxes? Or perhaps get some sort of rebate or refund?
Not to mention, is the Interstate 70 rebuild what that money should be used for? It's certainly a laudable idea. That doesn't mean there aren't other laudable projects worthy of funding either.
What do you think?