Missouri lawmakers should show leadership by funding state transportation, but won't in an election year - Daily Star-Journal: Opinion

Headlines are quick hits from media outlets from Missouri and around the world. Follow the headline link for the full story. The source of this headline says:

Rep. Dean Dohrman used plain language to tell the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce why lawmakers will do nothing again this year, same as last year, about deteriorating Missouri roads – lawmakers are playing politics.

Lawmakers know road income does not cover maintenance and cannot meet expansion needs. Needs include converting Highway 13 from two to four lanes from Warrensburg to Interstate 70. The University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg remains the only state university without direct, four-lane access to an interstate.

Lawmakers know the Missouri Department of Transportation needs $485 million per year just for basic maintenance, and that MoDOT is tens of millions short of the mark. But as Dohrman told the chamber last week, many lawmakers seek re-election. As a result, they will not do the right thing by providing leadership on the highway issue. Leadership would come in the form of supporting a plan to raise taxes.

MoBikeFed comment: Any proposal in Jefferson City to raise taxes for any purpose faces a difficult challenge, for exactly the reasons the article indicates.

MoBikeFed comment: We and other bicycle, pedestrian, and trails groups across Missouri have been working together with transit organizations like CMT and MPTA to develop a joint strategy to address the transportation funding shortfall in Missouri--including the shortfall in funding for walking, bicycling, and transit.

Missouri is facing a crisis in highway funding--one far more serious than most citizens in Missouri realize.

But the facts show that the crisis in state transit and pedestrian/bicycle funding in Missouri is even worse than the highway funding crisis.

Meeting with legislators and MoDOT leaders in Jefferson City this legislative session, we have been taking this message:

Missouri's dramatic underinvestment in transit, walking, and bicycling harms the ability of communities across the state to compete in today's global marketplace

• Missouri ranks 44th of the 50 states in public transportation funding.

• Missouri spend just 9 cents per capita on public transportation funding; our bordering states average $2.85 per capita (excluding Illinois, which spends $66.30 per capita).

• Missouri provides no state transportation funding for walking or bicycling.

• People in every Missouri county depend on public transportation, walking, and bicycling for access to vital jobs, school, and medical care. This is an issue for communities large and small; urban, suburban, and rural.

• Transportation options that meet the needs of all citizens are vital for a strong economy and the public health.

• As a far outlier state in state funding for public transportation, walking, and bicycling, Missouri harms its economy and drives talent and business to more competitive states.

Transportation means a lot more than just highways. Support a comprehensive solution to state transportation funding that meets the needs of all Missourians.