MoDOT Commission approves final project list for Amendment 7 funding - Vote August 5th

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission today approved the final project list for the proposed $5 billion Missouri transportation funding plan. 

MoDOT Commission members approved the final Project List today
MoDOT Commission members approved the final Project List today

The plan is the first in Missouri history to incorporate bicycling, walking, and transit alongside all other transportation projects.  The full project list is available on MoDOT's web site.

The full list includes over 800 projects--everything from major bridge replacement to resurfacing to sidewalks.  A major emphasis of the project list is maintaining the system--one of the top four priorities identified in MoDOT's long range plan adopted earlier this year.  So you will see far more repaving and bridge replacement type projects than new road construction or expansion.

Another major emphasis is safety--for all transportation modes, including bicycling and walking.

What is in the project list for bicycling and walking?

The plan includes a number of important bicycle and pedestrian projects--and that is no accident. Because people like you from all across Missouri have been asking MoDOT to consider bicycle and pedestrian needs for years, and have used MoDOT's public process to be sure that our needs and our concerns are heard.

MoDOT staff reported that fully 1/4 of the public comments received during the public comment period on the Amendment 7 Project List related to bicycling and walking.  So be sure that your needs and concerns are being heard loud and clear by MoDOT leadership and by the Highway and Transportation Commission members. 

MoDOT Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger's slide shows the future of MoDOT funding if A
MoDOT Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger's slide shows the future of MoDOT funding if Amendment 7 fails to pass. $600 million is the minimum required simply to maintain the state road system; by 2017 we will be well below that figure.

But more important than any single project on the list is that consideration of bicycling and walking is gradually being made the default for MoDOT staff and regional planning partners as they plan for transportation needs across the state.  MoDOT staff is, at minimum, seriously considering pedestrian and bicycle needs and access on all projects.  In many regions of the state, bicycle and pedestrian needs are always prominently mentioned in public meetings and as part of MoDOT's work with its regional planning partners--and you can see in the final result, that in parts of the state where this is actively happening, MoDOT staff is actively working to address the needs of people who bicycle and walk.

Highlights of the plan from the bicycle and pedestrian perspective:

  • Numerous small sidewalk and pedestrian projects very important to creating safe pedestrian access on MoDOT roads that pass through local communities
  • Bicycle and pedestrian access included in some form on major bridge projects, such as the Broadway Bridge in Kansas City, the Champ Clark Bridge in Louisiana, and to create a new nonmotorized Missouri River crossing between St Louis & St Charles Counties near St Louis
  • A number of shoulder widening projects (one of our requests of MoDOT was to consider wider shoulders where needed and feasible; many of the listed shoulders may be planned as just two feet wide, and some will be - but on key bicycling routes we'll need to advocate for wider shoulders as these projects move to final planning; many of the MoDOT staff we have talked with in recent weeks committed to find funding for wider shoulders on those projects if at all possible)
  • Final piece of the Katy Trail/Rock Island trail connector in the Kansas City region
  • Major investment in regional bicycle, pedestrian, and transit priorities in the Kansas City region for the regional nonmotorized transportation system as identified by the public and MoDOT's local planning partners
  • Major investment in regional bicycle & pedestrian priorities in St Louis City, as identified by the city and MoDOT's local planning partners
  • A number of key bike/ped projects and connections throughout the remainder of the St Louis region
  • The I-170 & I-270 projects in St Louis County are planned to include reasonable bicycle & pedestrian access at interchanges and crossing points, and may even include a new bike/ped trail paralleling the freeway.  (This is in contrast to the recent 64/40 freeway project, where bicycle & pedestrian access across the freeway deteriorated at many points as new interchanges were built.  MoDOT has made a commitment to improve bike/ped connectivity across and along the freeway on these new projects.)
  • All MoDOT projects in the St Louis region will implement the Gateway Bike Plan to the extent possible within the scope of the project; this essentially means that every road & bridge project in the region becomes a part of building out the region's bicycle network
  • Important bicycle/pedestrian projects in the Springfield region with particular emphasis on overcoming gaps in the system caused by major MoDOT roads
  • Nonmotorized connection from the Frisco Highline Trail to the city of Bolivar
  • Important sidewalk projects on MoDOT roads in a number of Missouri cities, including Warrenton, Warsaw, Branson, Sedalia, Cape Girardeau, Joplin, Columbia, Jefferson City, Osage Beach, Potosi, Waynesville, Mexico, Moberly, Poplar Bluff, and many other places
  • Important pedestrian crossing projects in Butler, Nevada, Bolivar, and other locations

Overall:

  • MoDOT will repair sidewalks and bring them up to ADA standards any time they are working on a road project with existing sidewalks.
  • Every MoDOT District gave consideration to bike/ped needs in the District and included at least some projects or funding.  
    • Some Districts--such as the Southwest District--have done an absolutely amazing job of identifying and prioritizing needs throughout the District, including priorities for the biggest cities, medium cities, small cities, and rural areas.
    • The Kansas City District, working with its regional transportation planning partner, the MId-America Regional Council, also did a very good job of identify bicycle, pedestrian, and transit needs.
    • The Northwest District was the most problematic of all seven MoDOT districts, with a large number of important bicycle and pedestrian priorities identified by the Greater St Joseph Area Metropolitan Planning Organization making few inroads into the final District project list.  (See discussion below.)  However, even in the Northwest District there is a some priority given to bicycle and pedestrian projects.
  • For many projects, especially bike/ped projects, local cities, counties, or agencies have agreed to supplement the Amendment 7 funding, showing the real local support that exists for these projects and allowing far more projects to be built with Amendment 7 funding that would otherwise be possible. 
    Members of the public and MoDOT staff attended the Commission meeting
    Members of the public and MoDOT staff attended the Commission meeting where the project list for the $5 billion, 10-year plan was approved

Other modes

  • Given the 30,000+ mile highway system that is MoDOT's responsibility to maintain, it is not surprising that by far the majority of projects on the project list are road and bridge projects. However, the emphasis is clearly on maintaining rather than expanding the system and the mixture of road and other projects is by far the best seen in any project list or plan produced by MoDOT.  This project list is a major step by MoDOT to move into the 21st Century.
  • I-70: MoDOT initially proposed upgrades and improvements to the I-70 corridor between Kansas City and St. Louis ranging from $1 billion to $2 billion.  In the past, MoDOT has proposed adding separated truck lanes costing billions.  Given that history, MoDOT's $800 million plan to rebuild I-70 is by some hundreds of millions the most modest we have seen. I-70 is the oldest freeway infrastructure in the state and nearing the end of its lifespan.
  • I-70 pedestrian & bicycle improvements: Rebuilding interchanges, overpasses, and frontage roads gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to work with MoDOT on improved bicycle & pedestrian connectivity all along and across the I-70 corridor.

What's Missing?

The biggest single missing piece from the bicycle/pedestrian perspective is in the St Joseph area.  The St Joseph MPO created an outstanding multimodal list of transportation priorities very much on par with the priorities set in other major metro areas across the state like Kansas City, St Louis, and Springfield.

However the priorities of those other major metro areas are very much in evidence in MoDOT's final list, while those of the St Joseph metro area are scarcely to be found.  

We encourage the MoDOT Northwest District and the St Joseph MPO and regional leaders to work together to find other ways to implement the MPO's excellent transportation priority list.

Vote August 5th - what's at stake?

Altogether, this is not a perfect list and not every possible or important transportation need has been included--because that would be impossible.

But having MoDOT produce this list, with numerous integrated bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects in every MoDOT District and in every part of Missouri is a milestone whose importance cannot be overstated.

At the MoDOT Commission meeting today I said that if Amendment 7 is approved by Missouri voters August 5th it will be the most important step forward for bicycling and walking in Missouri in a century.

That is because bicycling and walking have never before been completely integrated into MoDOT's planning, into its committees, with its regional planning partners across the state, and in the minds of MoDOT staff.

With the Amendment 7 project list, it is happening--for the first time in history.

And you--the supporters of bicycling and walking in Missouri--are making it happen by being fully engaged with MoDOT and its local planning partners at every step of the way.

So please: Give yourself a big pat on the back--because together we are changing Missouri for the better, and YOU are big part of that!

And please look at the final project list--what is there, what is missing, what is good, what is bad.  

From my perspective, it looks like BY FAR the best, most comprehensive, most balanced transportation project list we have ever seen MoDOT produce.

And--remember to get out and vote on Amendment 7 on August 5th!

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