Mo. might sell bonds to pay for road improvements after voters say no to gas tax increase

Updated Jul 8, 2019
Google Earth screen shot of Interstate 70 bridge near Rocheport, Mo.Google Earth screen shot of Interstate 70 bridge near Rocheport, Mo.

After taxpayers in Missouri rejected a phased-in 10-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) officials are looking for other ways to pay for transportation improvements, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Now, they plan to use $50 million in funds that were set aside for transportation improvements in the spring, but more will be needed.

Missouri lawmakers approved and Gov. Mike Parson signed a $350 million road improvement program this week to begin replacing bridges in the state, but will start by replacing only 40 bridges due to the lack of funds. The governor has asked lawmakers to allow MoDOT to sell $301 million in bonds to pay for repairs to another 220 bridges, but says he will only use the funds if the state gets federal matching funds to help pay for the replacement of the Interstate 70 bridge near Rocheport.

According to the news agency, MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said he believes that, because of the interstate’s commercial traffic, Missouri has a good chance of getting the grant, but won’t know before September. The grant application calls for Columbia and Boone counties to each provide $2 million, while the state would pay $105.2 million, with an additional $73.1 million coming from a federal loan.

“It was a very aggressive application,” McKenna told the news agency.