Missouri Transportation Alliance--what Missouri voters want in new MoDOT funding

Missouri Transportation Alliance
Missouri Transportation Alliance
The Missouri Transportation Alliance (MoTA) has been holding meetings around Missouri, finding out what Missouri voters are interested in and will--or will not--support in a new funding initiative for Missouri transportation.

Patty Vinyard of the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation (and also serving on MoBikeFed's board) attended a recent Transportation Summit where Bill McKenna of MoTA summarized what they have found:

What do Missourians support?

1. People want to take care of our existing system, and they like the improvements they've seen.

2. Safety:  People agree with safety improvements. People understand geographic position provides an opportunity they appreciate economic development, and want more of the same.

3. Other modes
 a. Ports
 b. Trails and Bike paths
 c. Public transportation (including rural)

4. Taking care of lettered roads--this is especially important to people in rural areas

5. Want more north/south corridors to become 4-lane

6. Want options to I-70 for east/west travel

7. Interest in local match funding opportunities

8. There are always more needs than funding allows

9. In northwest Missouri people seem to care only about lettered roads

10. People in rural areas don't want tax to pay for public transit in STL and KC. MoTA has been working to educate people in all parts of the state that this is funding an entire transportation system and not a series of projects. McKenna thought people were beginning to understand this.

11. Trucks only lanes were well-received.

Two things were not well-received

1. Toll Roads

2. The 15 Year Plan

Priority number 1 for citizens is for us to take care of what we already have.

MoTA shared results of last year's meetings with MoDOT and asked Pete Rahn

Waiting for MoDOT by zaskem on FlickR
Waiting for MoDOT by zaskem on FlickR
what we'd need to do all the things we want.

MoDOT's estimate: $650M - $750M new dollars per year to do this.

MoTA plans to go to voters to ask for this amount.

Their plan is that all current MoDOT state funding go to taking care of the current system

MoDOT's current plan for spending that existing funding will put: 

 * 85% of major roads in good condition for next 12 years

 * 85% of major bridges in good condition

 * 85% of minor bridges in good condition

 * 70% of lettered roads in good condition

That addresses taking care of the current system.

Their current plan for how new funding will be spent:

 * $100 million annually for I-70

 * MoDOT share split among districts using a formula based on "emerging needs"

 * New funding would not be limited to roads (ie, transit, ports, bicycle/pedestrian, and other overall, general transportation needs could be funded from this source; proportions for different transportation modes would likely vary significantly in different parts of the state due to their different needs)

 * Metropolitan Planning Organizations/Regional Planning Commissions would be involved in the decision-making

The good points from our point of view:

  • MoTA is recognizing that people want to be able to have the choice to bicycle, walk, and use transit.  (In fact I have heard that the request to include "Complete Streets" is the top online comment they have received--click here to leave your own comment in support.)
     
  • The decision to allow funding to be used for all types of transportation, not just roads and highways, is very significant.

    Under our current system, the state highway fund can only be used for roads and highways.  That makes MoDOT reluctant to fund other transportation options--even sidewalks and bike lanes in some cases--even when they make sense in context. 
     
  • The new funding source is likely to be something other than a fuel tax.  A tax raised from general funding sources creates a far greater moral imperative to provide for real transportation options for the 30% of Missourians who don't have a driver's license--and the much higher percentage who would like the choice of transit, bicycling, walking, or some other way of getting to places.
     
  • One of the top items in our agenda in talking with MoTA was to have far greater accountability and transparency in MoDOT's decision-making processes, and to better integrate public and community input in setting its priorities.

    The decision to include Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Regional Planning Commissions in MoDOT's decision-making process for these new state transportation funds seems like a very simple and clean way to do this.

Public meeting

Thanks to Patty Vinyard and Ron McLinden for contributing to this report.

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