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MoDOT Money: Earmarks worth $72-million reallocated for highway projects

(KY3)
Published: Oct. 4, 2016 at 8:58 PM CDT
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Some sunshine is being cast on what has been a gloomy forecast for roads across the Show Me State.

In recent years, a funding shortfall has left the Missouri Department of Transportation scaling back on plans for future expansions. While not exactly a solution, some additional funding may help some projects for the time being. $72-million additional dollars are now available for projects, $21-million of that will be for improvements in southwest Missouri.

"We know that taking care of our system is one of our biggest priorities that Missourians told us we should have as a transportation agency. So, it is really good to be able to make sure we are keeping our interstates and roads in good condition," stated Becky Baltz, Southwest District Engineer for Missouri Department of Transportation.

The money was set aside for projects up to ten years ago for other projects but never got spent; some projects were never built; some came in under budget; others ended up being paid for with other sources. But since the money was tied to those projects, it could not spent elsewhere and sat used. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and other congressional lawmakers worked to free up the money for improvements now.

Baltz explained, "A lot of people take it for granted because they just expect to drive on a smooth road. But, if you have ever driven in a location where the roads are not smooth and there are a lot of potholes, you know it is really important."

Much of the money will go toward improvements on I-44 and I-49.

In Taney County, funds will help pay for improvements to the Route 76 bridge over Bull Shoals Lake. In Springfield, bridge improvements will be funded on Highway 13 just north of the city at Radio Lane.

Such projects were already on the books, and in some cases, already underway. Money previously allocated to those will be freed up for construction in the future.

Broken down, Jasper County will receive more than $12-million; McDonald County will receive $2.5-million; Taney County gets $5.3-million; Greene County will receive $14,000; Webster County and Lawrence County will each see about $800,000.

"It doesn't really solve all of our transportation funding issues," Baltz said. "We still have a lot of needs, especially on out major interstates of I-70 and I-44 that aren't being addressed. But, we are appreciative of any funding that we can get for transportation because it all helps.