ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It’s Missouri’s dilemma: The cost of repairing or expanding I-70 is steep enough but so is the cost of simply keeping federal highway dollars flowing to the state.
Before any work can begin on Interstate-70, Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Chairman Stephen Miller already knows the cost. “Anywhere from two to four billion dollars for that 200 mile stretch.” says Miller.
He says it would take two billion just to repair existing lanes and four billion to acquire land and add lanes, but either way, Miller says, “we would litterally have to take I-70 down to bare ground.”
Then, there is the other dilemma: The matter of collecting federal matching dollars. Miller says if Missouri doesn’t come up with 160-million dollars the state will lose 40-million in federal dollars by July of 2017 and 400-million dollars by July of 2018.
Last year Missouri voters rejected an increase in the sales tax for road repairs. Miller says a fuel tax is being discussed in Jefferson City but even that would not fund repairs or expansion on I-70. Other ideas have been mentioned across the state including a fuel tax increase and tolls.
Interstate 70 was constructed in 1957 and was designed to last fifty years. It was also expected to carry about 20,000 vehicles a day but instead carries 100,000 in the St. Louis area. Miller adds that about 35-to-40 percent of the traffic is heavy trucks.
Core samples have been taken on the interstate and show the underlying support system to be deteriorating. Miller uses a metaphor: “You look at someone who has a beautiful smile but underneath they have gum disease.”
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