Missouri has the seventh largest highway system in the country, but it ranks 46th nationally in funding per mile. That ranking could drop still more. Last year, the Missouri Department of Transportation spent $700 million on road improvements— in two years, that amount will be cut my more than half.
Dave Nichols has been with the Missouri Department of Transportation for 31 years, serving as director for the last two. He recently announced his retirement, effective May 1.
Nichols spoke with Up To Date host Steve Kraske about the hard choices the department will have to make and the future of the state's transportation systems.
On the gap between the current and future budget:
It takes about $485 million just to maintain the system in the condition the roads are in today, so we're $160 million short [with a $325 million budget in 2016]. If there are any capital improvements, any additional work that needs to be done, that's on top of that. It's a pretty big gap, and that's what we're talking about with the legislature right now — how do we take care of that gap that we have.
In 2017, we will not be able to match $167 million of our federal dollars. In 2018, that number grows to $400 million and last thing any of us in Missouri want to do is have tax dollars that are paid from Missourians go to Washington and not come back to our state.