MoDOT sales tax campaign hits the road

MoDOT officials discuss project proposals with a Columbia resident Monday evening. The agency is asking for public input on a project list ahead of an August sales tax vote.

Residents said Monday they were generally pleased with MoDOTâ??s plans if an August sales tax measure passes.

MoDOT officials detailed their plans to the public at one of a series of input meetings Monday afternoon. The meetings come days after the agency released a list of projects it would pursue if voters approve a statewide ¾-cent sales tax increase in August. That measure is formally listed as Constitutional Amendment 7. Revenue from the new tax would be set aside strictly for transportation-related projects. Five percent of the extra money would be set aside for counties to use and another 5 percent would be reserved for use by cities and towns.

In Boone County, MoDOT said the money could be used to add a new terminal at Columbia Regional Airport, reconfigure the I-70/U.S. 63 interchange, extend Stadium Boulevard to link with Highway WW, and add two hours of daily public transit service.

Several people at Monday nightâ??s informational meeting said they thought MoDOT had a good plan. Columbia resident John Frerking said he was glad to see some progress on the stateâ??s transportation needs. He said he was especially pleased to see plans to rebuild and widen I-70 from Independence to Wentzville. Kansas City resident Jim Kinder said he was also pleased to see I-70 near the top of the projects list. Both men said they thought a sales tax was the best funding mechanism available, pointing out the stateâ??s fuel tax revenue has fallen over the last few years.

Roy Hartley disagreed. He said he blamed the trucking industry for the condition of the stateâ??s highways and thought truckers should be made to pay for road repairs through higher fees and fuel taxes. He said the sales tax would make everyone else pay for the damage truckers caused. He plans to vote against the measure.

Central District Engineer David Silvester said MoDOT would continue taking public comments on the project list through July 3. At that point, the agency will draw up a final project list based on public feedback, which it will present to the Highways and Transportation Commission on July 9. Silvester said the project list the commission approves will govern how MoDOT spends the money if Amendment 7 passes.