SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Drivers in the Ozarks are benefiting from bigger and better highways. The pace of new highway construction project has slowed considerably in recent months, however.
Recent projects, like the six-laning of U.S. 65, and the new U.S. 60 - U.S. 65 interchange, were funded with things like bond money and federal stimulus funds. The Missouri Department of Transportation says those sources have dried up. The agency says it is now in "maintenance mode" and is doing good just to maintain the system we have now.
"The economy rolls across the roads and bridges, literally. And we can't get in the position where things just stop," said Joe Carmichael of Springfield, a member of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.
State legislators have come up with an idea that they believe would keep things rolling. The proposal is a new one-percent sales tax on everything you buy except for gas, groceries and medications.
The plan could generate $8 billion over 10 years for more improved highways and bridges. If the Missouri House and Senate approve the proposal, it would head to the voters next year.
Many motorists like the idea However, some say they would give the proposal a "yellow light" and they express caution about supporting it.
"Well, I am a little torn on that one," said Ada Rowe of Springfield. "We need it, but, with the way the economy is, people are barely getting by paycheck to paycheck."
"I am not a big fan of taxes, but I am a fan of safe roads, so all in all I would probably be for it," said Angela Tolbert of Ash Grove.
"I think anytime we have to hit our pockets as taxpayers it is a challenge," Carmichael said. "What I hope is that we will get this on the ballot, people will be very thoughtful, and they will decide to invest in the future, and the future of transportation."