Transportation experts say Missouri drivers shouldn't expect smooth interstate traveling any time soon.
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Transportation experts say Missouri drivers shouldn't expect smooth interstate traveling any time soon.

Date: October 10, 2008
By: Christine Slusser
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: Transportation experts say Missouri drivers shouldn't expect smooth interstate traveling any time soon.

Christine Slusser has more from the state capitol.

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Four years ago highway funding was a major issue in Missouri gubernatorial campaigns. 

While still a problem today it has taken a back burner on the minds of officials.

The Road Information Programs, or TRIPs, most recent report says by 2010 the money allotted for Missouri roads will be cut in half.

MODOT spokesperson Sally Oxenhaneler says drivers will see highways like Interstates 70 and 44 stay outdated.

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Description: "What will happen with this funding decline over the years is that we really won't be able to tackle that many new construction projects. What we'll be able to do is take care of the roads that we have and try and keep them in the shape they're in now but we really won't be able to do any expansion."

Oxenhaneler says MODOT has a popular trucking lane concept but no funds to work with.

TRIP's 2007 report says commercial trucking will be up 48% by 2020.

Their 2006 report says I-70 needs at least six lanes by 2016 to help traffic congestion.

Oxenhaneler says battling growing highway traffic is difficult.

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Description: "We've got big trucks competing with small cars and they both have their issues. I know the trucks are concerned with cars darting in and out. They're more mobile than the trucks are and then the trucks don't have the same reaction time."

Oxenhaneler says separating the large trucks from the smaller cars would help clear up some traffic congestion.

With little funding for road improvement, smaller roads suffer too.

The Missouri Transportation Department reported Interstate 44 being ten years behind Interstate 70.

While highway maintenance is playing catch-up, the smaller roads are being left behind.

The Transportation Planning Director for MODOT, Machelle Watkins, says Missouri's roads are in trouble.

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Description: "We still have a minor roads system with 27,000 miles that needs improvement. Right now, 62% of them are in good condition and they're getting worse and we have no means by which to fund that."

Watkins woes about funding don't end there.

Rising fuel and material costs are also eating away at road budgets.

MODOT spokesperson, Oxenhaneler, hopes this will not delay any construction projects. 

With the construction, Missouri Highway Patrolman Lieutenant John Hotz is concerned about potential accidents.

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Description: "Speeding is one of the top causes, it's the number four cause actually for 2007 in construction zones, speeding was the number four cause. Number one cause is inattention, people just not paying attention when they're traveling down the road."

Lieutenant Hotz also warned Missouri drivers to watch out for speed drops and lane closures common in construction zones.

MODOT spokesperson, Oxenhaneler, says the promises already made to Missouri's roads will be completed.

She says Missourian's should see about 800 bridges state-wide being replaced or repaired starting early next year.

From the state capitol, I'm Christine Slusser.

 


Intro: Declining federal revenue is expected to help slice more than half of Missouri's funding for highways by 2010.

Christine Slusser has more from the state capitol.

RunTime:0:40 OutCue: SOC

The Road Information Program, or TRIP, predicts big budget cuts for construction on Missouri roads.

The spokesperson for MODOT, Sally Oxenhaneler, says with the drop in funds, Interstate 70 will have trouble holding up.

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Description: "That road was designed to last about 20 to 30 years and now there are some stretches of it that are 50 years old and the capacity has grown over the years and it just can't handle all of the cars and trucks that are on it."

Oxenhaneler says trucks are a component to the traffic congestion that is damaging I-70.

MODOT has plans for trucking lanes if funding becomes available.

From the state capitol, I'm Christine Slusser.


Intro: MODOT says Missouri Drivers can expect bumper to bumper truck traffic to double by 2030.

Christine Slusser has more from the state capitol.

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MODOT attributes an expected traffic increase to the rise of trucks on Missouri interstates.

The Transportation Planning Director for MODOT, Machelle Watkins, says the number of truck drivers on the roads is on the rise.

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Description: "I think they just continue to add to the congestion. We've actually projected that on I-70, for instance, there's roughly 25%% truck traffic there. We expect that to double by 2030."


Watkins says trucking lanes would help traffic flow by separating the smaller cars from trucks.

Watkins adds support for the addition of trucking lanes is very high but will require a vote before it can go into effect.

From the state capitol, I'm Christine Slusser.


Intro: One Missouri Representative calls for more creative ways to finance highway construction.

Christine Slusser has more from the state capitol.

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MODOT's construction program anticipates half of Missouri's road funds to be cut by 2010.

The Missouri House Transportation Chairman, Representative Neal St. Onge, says Missouri is not alone in facing funding challenges, other states are facing the same problems.

The Representative calls for new ways to finance highways and make them less congested.

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Description: "We have to look for innovative ways to finance our construction. The old ways of gas tax just about everybody agrees that that's not going to work and that's not going be a single adequate source in the future."

Representative St. Onge said some ways to decrease traffic would be to utilize the Missouri River using barges, upgrading ports, and toll bridges.

From the state capitol, I'm Christine Slusser. 


Intro: Due to federal revenue cuts and bonds, Missouri's highways will remain small while their traffic remains big.

Christine Slusser has more from the state capitol.

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Missouri's highways could look skeletal in the next few years.
 
Missouri House Transportation Chairman, Representative Neal St. Onge, says the budget cuts will cause Interstate 70 and 44 to remain "in the Dark Ages".
 

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Description: "Basically a bare bones maintenance only program you'll see little or no new construction and they'll just have enough to, like I said, have bare bones maintenance on Missouri's roads."


Representative St. Onge said the projects promised now by MODOT will be completed but new plans will be difficult to fund.

From the state capitol, I'm Christine Slusser. 


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