MoDOT's $8 billion in proposed funding: What bike, ped, and trails ideas should MoDOT's Regional Planning Partners include in their project priority lists?

As MoDOT works to build support for a proposed $8 billion statewide transportation funding initiative--that will, for the first time, allow state transportation funding to be spent on bicycling, walking, and transit projects--MoBikeFed has worked with organizations across Missouri to evaluate the proposal and its ramifications. 

Missouri's Regional Planning Commissions map
Missouri's Regional Planning Commissions map

MoDOT's plan is that the vast majority of the $8 billion dollars will be prioritized and allocated by MoDOT's "Planning Partners" these are Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) across Missouri.

The proposed new funding includes, for the first time, state transportation funding for bicycling, walking transit, ports, airports, and other transportation needs, alongside the traditional Missouri state transportation priorities--roads and bridges.

Here is our list of project ideas and suggestions for this new funding:

  • Incorporate routine accommodation of biking and walking in every transportation project built over the next ten years, wherever needed and as appropriate to the location and situation. 
     

    • Create a process for systematically evaluating road, bridge, and other transportation projects for bicycle and pedestrian needs.

    • Allow bicycle and pedestrian elements to be omitted from these projects only when there is demonstrated and documented lack of current and future need.

    • Keep in mind that bicycle and pedestrian use can be accommodated in rural and low-use areas by a facility as simple as a shoulder.

    • More information: MoBikeFed.org/CompleteStreets.
       

  • Create a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian transportation fund for each regional planning commission and metropolitan planning organization in the state, to support much-needed projects such as:
     

    • The top priority sidewalk gaps as identified in existing regional sidewalk assessments and by communities across Missouri

    • Top priority projects in city, county, and regional trails, bicycle, and pedestrian plans

    • Safety improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians

    • Consider running this as a competitive grant program or similar.  Allocating this amount as a block removes the need to identify every small bike, ped, or trails project that you may wish to complete in your entire region for the next ten years.

    • Much expanded available scope for these funds: Note that this new state funding is likely to have far fewer restrictions and give far greater latitude to regional planning partners than similar federal funds.  Regional planning partners will have input into deciding both how much money will go into this fund for their region and what exactly the fund will be used for. Both of these decisions will affect the number and type of projects eligible and may dramatically affect the region’s list of projects—in comparison with similar lists drawn up under the restrictions of current similar federal funding.

    • How much? Reasonable targets are: An annual amount similar to that annually allocated for Transportation Alternatives projects in your area; or $8 per resident per year.
       

  • Create a Walk & Bike to School Safety & Connectivity Fund for each region and metropolitan area in the state, to support much-needed projects such as:

    • Sidewalk, bikeway, and trail connections between neighborhoods and schools

    • Safety Improvements for school zones and school crossings

    • High need and demand: MoDOT’s similar Safe Routes to School program has been very popular with communities across the state, indicating a high need and demand for this type of funding.  MoDOT’s funding amount has been oversubscribed by as much as 10X and 20X during grant application rounds.

    • How much? The federal Safe Routes to School allotment of approximately $1 per resident per year proved to very insufficient for demonstrated need in Missouri.  We suggest considering allocating as much as $5-$6 per resident per year towards this program—at least until highest priority needs are met and student safety is assured.
       

  • Create a prioritized list of roads needing shoulders in every region of the state, and devote a percentage of new funds to systematically adding needed shoulders.  All shoulders must contain sufficient clear space for safe bicycle travel and rumble strips must at minimum follow national guidelines for bicycle compatibility.  Systematically address gaps on shoulder coverage on major highways.
     

  • Create and implement a Statewide Strategic Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and a Statewide Strategic Trails Plan and regional bicycle, pedestrian, and trails plans in all Missouri Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Regional Planning Commissions, and MoDOT Districts.
     

    • In addition, each Missouri city and county should have bicycle, pedestrian, and trails plans. Funding for this should be set aside as a top priority from this new funding.

    • Transportation planning is an allowed use of the proposed funding; creating bicycle, pedestrian, and trails plans in regions, counties, and cities that do not currently have them should be a top priority.

    • Regional, county, and city bike, ped, and trails plans are relatively inexpensive and ensure wise and best use of funds spent on bike, ped, and trails infrastructure.
       

  • Incorporate safe bicycle and pedestrian access into every major river bridge that is built or reconstructed in the next ten years and add access when opportunities arise.  For example:
     

    • Platte Purchase/Fairfax Bridges in the Kansas City area

    • Hwy 47 Bridge at Washington, MO

    • Champ Clark Bridge at Louisiana, MO

    • Any other crossing of a river or major barrier

       

  • Refine, mark, and officially adopt into the U.S. National Bicycle Route System all current national bicycle routes in Missouri, and other regional and statewide bicycle routes as appropriate. Create and mark routes for a regional on-road bicycle route system in every part of Missouri.

    Cross-state and national bicycle routes in Missouri include:

     

    • Route 66 Bicycle Route

    • Way of American Genius Bicycle Route/Hwy 36

    • Lewis and Clark Bicycle Route

    • Great Rivers Bicycle Route

    • American Discovery Trail

    • Mississippi River Trail bicycle route

    • See maps of these routes in your area at http://mobikefed.org/momaps.php
       

  • Create a truly statewide interconnected trail network, dramatically extending the current state trail network centered on the Katy Trail. Create a statewide plan and complementary regional plans to connect every Missouri region and community to the statewide trails network.  Build the priority segments in the next ten years.
     

  • For cities & counties: Create ongoing, dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian transportation at the city and county levels.

    Missouri cities and counties will each receive 5% of the proposed new tax for their own use at their own discretion.
    This amounts to about $10 per citizen per year for cities and about $6.50 per citizen per year for counties.

    We believe that cities and counties should use this new funding to address previously neglected parts of Missouri’s transportation system, spending most or all of the new funding to implement bicycle, pedestrian and trails plans, improve bicycle and pedestrian safety and connectivity on all roads and streets, and improve public transit.

    More detailed suggestions for effective use of this funding by cities and counties is found here.

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