Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Increase the Investment in Missouri's Roads and Bridges

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Increase the Investment in Missouri's Roads and Bridges

Article excerpt

You get what you pay for. Missouri's roads and bridges exemplify that adage and not in a good way. Our state ranks 46th in per-mile road maintenance and it shows, as 22 percent of roads are in poor condition and 23 percent of our bridges are in need of repair. It's time for our state lawmakers to increase investment in transportation, so that we are not forced to make tough choices.

This is an opportune time for the Show-Me State to take action: Gas prices are low, at the federal level the first multi-year surface transportation bill was passed in over a decade in December, and Missouri's transportation network is in need of repairs, especially after last month's flooding. Is the current snapshot of statewide infrastructure really the one Missouri wants to show the world?

We are already paying the price for our poor transportation infrastructure. The typical St. Louis driver loses $596 annually in extra vehicle car repairs from driving on rough roads. By cutting the Missouri Department of Transportation budget, this cost will surely rise as our roads fall into further disrepair. Decreased funding would lead to a smaller maintenance budget focused solely on major roads leaving two-thirds of the state's surface roads and less-traveled bridges, especially in rural areas, to deteriorate and not allowing any investment dollars for major upgrades to the system.

There is still a year to prevent getting to that point. As Gov. Jay Nixon said in his final State of the State address last month, there are options that would ensure our roads and bridges get the investment they need, including Sen. Doug Libla's proposal to raise the state gas tax. Last increased in 1992, the 17-cent-per-gallon tax has lost about half of its purchasing power over the past 20 years. The gas tax allows those who use the roads and bridges to pay for it; as gas prices continue to drop, now is an opportune time to ensure users are paying their fair share. …

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