Voters to decide on sales tax to benefit MoDOT

Voters to decide on sales tax to benefit MoDOT

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Missourians will vote on a 3/4-cent sales tax increase in the August election that would give the Missouri Department of Transportation an estimated $5.4 billion in funding for transportation projects over 10 years.

MoDOT workers say it takes about $485 million to maintain current roads.

"You don't want to hit pot holes and have other problems," said MoDOT engineer Brian Okenfuss.

Okenfuss says a lot of that money used for upkeep will be gone if the tax doesn't pass.

Some locals say they would pay the extra tax in order to get better roads.

"They're pretty bad, I think," said Beth Bliese. "The roads between here and Blytheville Arkansas have been pretty bad. The roads on I-70 are not that great. There's a lot of roads right in town that aren't that great either, pretty bumpy, and I'm ready to have them fixed."

Others disagree.

"They need to fix the roads because there are plenty of roads that are bad and plenty of roads that have blind spots so they need to fix it but I don't feel like we should pay for it," Kendra Smith.

MoDOT maintains about 34,000 miles of roads. From 2005-2010, MoDOT's annual construction budget was about $1.3 billion. However, it has decreased to $685 million. That's compared to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, which maintains about 27,000 miles of roads. It has a construction budget of about $1 billion.

According to MoDOT, without more money, by 2017 Missouri's roads and bridges will deteriorate.

"This funding would allow us to bring more of our roads in good condition, the more roads we have in good condition, the less patching we have to do on some of our major routes," Okenfuss said.

According to MoDOT, the tax would generate an estimated $5.4 billion that would be used for transportation projects over the next ten years. After that time, it would expire.

One reason MoDOT's budget shrunk in recent years is because the department spent stimulus money from the federal government, received in 2009.

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