$8 billion Missouri Transportation Funding Plan to be on November 2014 ballot; MoDOT unveils draft plan for the new funding today; Could be the biggest positive step for Missouri bicycling and walking in a generation

Remember the $8 billion Missouri transportation funding proposal that nearly passed the 2013 Missouri General Assembly in May?  The first transportation fundign proposal in Missouri history to fully incorporate bicycling and walking, and which will add bicycling and walking to the Missouri Constitution?

Well--it's back

MoDOT
MoDOT

A private group is working to gather signatures and add the 1 cent sales tax for transportation to the November 2014 ballot for a vote of the people.  Backers of the initiative petition are confident of gathering enough votes for a victory in 2014.

MoDOT's first draft of the plan for the new funding to be unveiled in Kansas City today

MoDOT is already preparing and planning for the possibility of the new funding, which is designed to address the problem of seriously declining purchasing power of the existing state gas tax--which is not indexed to inflation, and so loses 2-3% in buying power each year.

Today at a meeting at Union Station in Kansas City, MoDOT will unveil its draft long-range plan.  That will be the plan and guidance MoDOT will follow in determining how the new funding is spent.  Many hundreds of you participated this year in the "Missouri On the Move" Listening Sessions.  This new MoDOT long-range plan is the result of that listening.

You can see MoDOT's summary of the goals of the new long-range plan here--and a full page detailing their commitment to creating more transportation choices, like biking, walking, and transit here.

The potential of the new statewide transportation funding is great. Because it, for the first time ever, allows Missouri's state transportation funding dollars to be spent on biking and walking, the proposal could revolutionize Missouri's approach to transportation.

This video of Brent Hugh of the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation and Susan Trautman of Great Rivers Greenway is featured on the new Missouri On the Move website that summarizes the MoDOT long-range plan for spending and prioritizing the proposed transportation funding.

Trautman and Hugh talk about why it is important for MoDOT to provide for safe and accessible bicycle and pedestrian connections

 

The $8 billion the new tax will generate over the next ten years could fund city, county, regional, and state bikeway systems and trail systems, sidewalk infill, safe routes to school, improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety--and much more.

But it all depends on how MoDOT and its regional planning partners work out the plans and projects for this new funding.  MoDOT announces its draft plan today, will finalize that plan soon, and will then work through next summer to select specific projects for spending the $8 billion in funding.

Our draft statement about how new funding should be spent; full incorporation of bicycling and walking needed

Because so much is riding on the plan MoDOT is releasing today, we have been working hard to coordinate with bicycle, pedestrian, and trails groups from across Missouri to create a statement that summarizes what we would like to see happen in any plan for this new funding.

This is a draft statement that has not yet been officially adopted by any group, but reflects and summarizes much discussion about priorities and issues held by many individuals, groups, and organizations. We are releasing this publicly for your comments and suggestions now. 

What is missing, what needs to be added, what do you agree or disagree with?

Statewide transportation funding in Missouri currently faces a serious crisis because of the declining purchasing power of existing state taxes that support transportation. We support the need for a higher level of stable, long-term funding to meet Missouri's transportation needs and to promote the state's health and economic growth.  We support the proposed initiative petition for a Missouri sales tax for statewide transportation funding as the best available plan that addresses those needs and has a realistic chance of passing a vote of the people in Missouri. 

Bicyclist on MoDOT highway
Bicyclist on MoDOT highway

Missouri’s opportunity with a new transportation funding source is to create a complete, connected, multimodal transportation system that:

  • Fully embraces all modes of transportationthat Missourians choose, including walking, bicycling, public transit, rail, waterways, and automobiles
  • Safely accommodates Missouriansof all ages and level of ability or disability
  • Creates vibrant, livable communitiesthat attract economic development, encourage healthy living, support sensible and sustainable land use, and create strong community connections

As details of the proposed new funding are currently under development, our fullest support for the proposal depends on the working out of those details, which must include:

1. Creating true travel options for Missourians and fully integrating Missouri’s transportation system by:

  • Incorporating routine accommodation of biking and walking in all transportation projects where needed and appropriate
  • Giving priority to infill of bike/ped connectivity on existing transportation projects where it is missing and most needed
  • Support for standalone bike/ped projectsfor connectivity and safety where needed

2. Priority for bicycle and pedestrian connectivity and safety on par with other transportation modes.

3. Appropriate bicycle and pedestrian representation on all committees and boards, such as the transportation committees of Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Regional Planning Commissions, where transportation decisions are made and where priorities are set for the use of Missouri transportation and highway funds.

Representation on transportation decision-making committees should be in proportion to population; funding decisions and priorities should be cross-checked by comparing populations of the areas served with amount of funding given; large sparsely populated areas should not carry more weight in transportation decision making than densely populated areas.

4. Support for creation and implementation of a Statewide Strategic Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan as an outgrowth of MoDOT's current long range planning process, and support for the creation ofregional bicycle and pedestrian plans in all Missouri Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Regional Planning Commissions, and MoDOT Districts over the next few years.

5. Attention to broad-based local public input and principles of sustainable economic growth in the development of all transportation plans, priorities, and projects, including:  

  • Specific, targeted outreach to groups and individuals likely to use the transportation system for bicycling and walking during the public input phase
  • Careful consideration of community priorities and existing local plans that provide support biking and walking
  • Priority to maintaining the system and to fully exploring every no-build alternative before undertaking new road construction
    Urban Complete Street
    Urban Complete Street
  • A way to incorporate planning and funding for projects of statewide scope and projects that cross boundaries of one or more regional planning organizations or MoDOT Districts—such as statewide trails systems and statewide transit systems
  • Full evaluation of the effect of transportation plans and projects on the public health, on the environment, on land use, and in creating sustainable economic development

How this draft statement could be used

Note that the italicized sentence, indicating support for the proposal, may be omitted by organizations that cannot support the tax proposal--whether because they oppose the 1 cent sales tax approach to the funding or for other reasons.  

But if bicycle, pedestrian, and trails groups around Missouri can unify around a central statement about how transportation funding in Missouri should be prioritized and spent, we can have a strong and unified voice in setting MoDOT's future direction--whether or not this tax or any future one is ratified.  Once this draft is finalized, we will be asking groups from around Missouri to formally endorse it.

Your feedback needed!

MoBikeFed's position--what do you think?

We've taken this draft statement to our internal MoBikeFed Committees and to many groups, individuals, and agencies from around Missouri who have given valuable feedback.

Now we need your feedback, too?  What do you agree with or disagree with?  What is missing?  What is more important and less important?

Leave your comments in the comment section below, email director[at]mobikefed.org, or call 816-695-6736.

MoDOT's new plan--what do you think?

MoDOT is also looking for your feedback on their proposed Long Range Transportation Plan called "Missouri On The Move".  You can give MoDOT your thoughts here.

Ensuring that any new transportation funding source in Missouri is spent wisely and includes funding for needed bicycle and pedestrian connectivity, safety, and facilities touches every one of the major points of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri: Improving safety, Building a world-class network, Encouraging more bicycling and walking, and Building a movement. Your membership and support of MoBikeFed helps us make our Vision a reality!

 

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