I-70

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The Missouri Department of Transportation’s move to reimagine Interstate 70 as the “road to tomorrow” raises more questions than it answers about the state’s central transit corridor.

“We’re making Interstate 70 across the midsection of our state available to the nation and to the world as the laboratory to construct the next generation of highways,” Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Chairman Stephen Miller announced Wednesday.

Missouri Department of Transportation

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. 

Interview highlights:

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.

Doug Kerr / Flicker -- CC

Missouri has always funded transportation through user fees, Gov. Jay Nixon told reporters Tuesday after an appearance in Kansas City.

"Roads aren't free," Nixon says. "I mean, they're not."

The governor is trying to drum up support for tolls along Interstate 70 as the 60-year-old road deteriorates. Last August, voters rejected a sales tax increase to pay for repairs — a plan Nixon also opposed.

Political candidates rush to get their names on the primary ballot in Kansas, and construction starts on Interstate 70 this week.  It’s a daily digest of headlines from KCUR.

Truck Pillow Eases Blow Of Crash

May 30, 2012
MoDOT

The simple science of a shock absorbing bumper undoubtedly saved drivers of two trucks from grave injuries this afternoon on I-70 some 60 miles east of Kansas City.  That’s the summation from MoDOT.

A daily digest of headlines from KCUR.

  • Governor Nixon: Avoid Tuition Hikes Despite Budget Cuts
  • MODOT Looks To Private Sector Not Voters For I-70 Tolls
  • Health Group Pushes Farmers To Reduce Antibiotic Use