Friday, September 5, 2008

Highway Trust Fund Shortfall Could Cause State Highway Projects to be Canceled

JEFFERSON CITY - Today's announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation that it would curtail federal highway payments to the states could cause Missouri road and bridge projects to be delayed or even canceled. If Congress fails to provide $8 billion to the Federal Highway Trust Fund as requested by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, it could mean Missouri would lose $252 million, which translates to 8,770 jobs lost.

"If Congress doesn't act to shore up the funding in the Federal Highway Trust Fund, we will have to take a hard look at the projects we have planned in our five-year construction program to determine if we'll be able to move ahead with them," said Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn. "This will have a devastating ripple effect, because it could mean lost jobs and less business for suppliers and contractors. Our communities will feel the blow, as will the driving public."

The trust fund is primarily funded by federal fuel taxes - 18.4 cents a gallon on gas and 24.4 cents on diesel. Rising fuel costs have sped the depletion of the trust fund. Fewer miles driven and more fuel-efficient vehicles mean fewer gallons of gas bought and lower than expected revenues. In Missouri, fuel tax revenues for July and August were down 8.7 percent compared to last year. About 70 percent of MoDOT's highway construction budget is federally funded.

"This problem has been building for three years, but little to nothing has been done to correct it," Rahn said. "It's time for Congress to use general revenue to reimburse the highway trust fund. Even if that happens, it will just be a short-term fix. In the long run, we need to find better ways and new funding mechanisms to support our nation's vital transportation system."

Editor's note: Taped comments by MoDOT Director Pete Rahn are available on MoDOT's newsroom, www.modot.org/newsroom.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I can understand future projects being canceled, if the funding does not come through. However, will existing projects or projects that are very near completion continue? North 71 Highway from Belton to Grandview is one such project. It was very nearly completed when MoDot just abandoned the project. All that remains is to complete a few sections of shoulder work and the entire project will be complete. As it stands now, an entire lane is unusable and this is causing extreme backups each and every day.
Perhaps MoDot believes the project is done, since I don't see if mentioned on their web site (the state map showing contruction sites).

Anonymous said...

MOTORIST ASSIST PROGRAM SHOULD NOT
CANCELED.

Daphne Timberlake said...

I just heard on the news last night that MODOT is taking 71 Hwy down to one lane! This is not acceptable to the citizens of Raymore, Belton, Peculiar, Harrisonville and other communities that utilize this highway daily. We have dealt with 71 Highway inconveniences for years and now they're stating an additional 2 more years! You cannot allow this to happen! There is no viable alternative route. Sitting in traffic for hours while watching gas gauges drop and knowing it is due to the incompetence of people like Jim Kinder, Bakul Desai, and Frank Blakemore is not going to be tolerated by local residents. For your information, Holmes and 291 are too far out of the way to utilize as a viable alternative route. I completely agree that changes need to be made - due to initial poor planning by MODOT, but you have got to figure out a way to accommodate traffic in the mean time. You've already created a mess by cutting off the lanes used by the entrance ramps for north bound 71 highway. This was our second nightmare, post the Grandview Triangle fiasco. Now you're following it by cutting off one of the remaining lanes??? Channel 4 Call for Action will be contacted, the mayors of all the local cities with residents affected by this will be inundated with phone calls, and your office will suffer all the humility and ridicule we can rouse within our communities. I need to know who can answer to this fiasco. I need names and numbers of those responsible. I need to know that this issue will be addressed timely and given the priority it deserves. I see the frustration and rage on the faces of the commuters daily and this frustration needs to be directed to those responsible and not to the other commuters on the road. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

MoDOT said...

MoDOT discussed several options to control Route 71 traffic at 163rd Street during a September 12 meeting with Belton and design consultants. These options - some of which require Belton's cooperation - are being evaluated by consultant HNTB, whose engineers will produce feasibility reports for each. They have committed to provide this report by Friday, September 26. MoDOT will consider their report and reach a decision soon thereafter.

We have identified three potential traffic configurations but left the door open to the best and most economical solution as may be determined by the consultant during their evaluation. Our goal is to provide two lanes for both northbound and southbound traffic on Route 71 throughout the project. And, if necessary, to restrict traffic to one lane each way for as short a time as possible.

MoDOT is moving quickly to improve three interchanges along the Route 71 corridor, and each project has the strong backing and some financial support from the communities involved.

At Route 150, we have begun the reconstruction of the interchange to accommodate the rapid growth in your community and the subsequent skyrocketing increase in traffic. The new interchange will be a single-point, urban interchange that will move traffic much more quickly and smoothly not just north and south, but through the turns between Route 71 and Route 150. The new interchange will remove most traffic signals and provide a longer movement through the remaining signal so that back ups are significantly reduced or eliminated.

To build this far more efficient and effective interchange, we must remove the two main bridges carrying Route 71 over Route 150 and replace them with two new, wider bridges. We will also add a bridge on each side to carry outer road traffic north and south, segregating that traffic from the intersection. This replacement work requires removal and replacement of bridges, which cannot be done without some lane restrictions on a highway carrying 80,000 vehicles per day.

A similar interchange reconstruction (necessitating bridge removal and replacement) will occur at the same time at 163rd Street. We are looking at several options that may provide better mainline highway capacity during construction, but would significantly restrict access at this busy interchange. The option MoDOT selects must come through the input and cooperation of the city of Belton.

The third project now under way is construction of a new interchange at about 187th Street and Route 71, the North Cass Parkway interchange. It's construction impact on traffic will be negligible.

When completed in two years, these three projects will significantly improve access along the Route 71 corridor for you and tens of thousands of your neighbors. Waiting on any of these three projects would create traffic back-ups for a much longer period.

MoDOT has made improvements to several adjacent highways in the past few years, the most recent includes the reconstruction of Route D (Holmes Road) from Route 150 to Route 58. The highway was closed from late July to last Thursday night (Sept. 18) to allow for reconstruction and adding northbound left-turn lanes at two intersections and a traffic signal at Route 58. The 11,000 vehicles per day that had to shift off this highway for seven weeks mostly went to Route 71, adding to the current traffic. Now that Route D has re-opened, those 11,000 vehicles per day are off Route 71, and perhaps up to half again as many motorists using Route 71 can now take Route D each day for the next two years, easing Route 71's traffic concerns.

MoDOT urges motorists to explore Route 291, Route D and other options during the next two years, along with adjusting commuting times and work schedules after consulting with their

Anonymous said...

mo dot i have never in all my life ever seen on 168w of palmyra mo the lack of safty signs where not put up right i had to drive over torch lines while a worker was useing them i had to drive over cut rebar i pulled 2 of them out of my tiers last night i had 2 stop in middel of bridge while 2 workers where wrestling in front of my car my wife was afaied i ask one of the workers are you going to stop them his reply thats steven and chad he was thinking it was funny well who ever steven and chad is thats my tax at work i dont pay tax for horseplay or unsafe work placecs where tax payers can get hurt i am going to file a complaint in jefferson city somthing will be done about this