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The Lake News Online
  • Transportation priorities released for public comment

  • The addition of passing lanes on U.S. Highway 63 from north of Rolla to south of Vichy is one of the projects promised to voters if a three-quarters cent transportation sales tax is approved this August.
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  • The addition of passing lanes on U.S. Highway 63 from north of Rolla to south of Vichy is one of the projects promised to voters if a three-quarters cent transportation sales tax is approved this August.
    Friday at noon, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission released on the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) website a draft list of the transportation projects and improvements that would be funded by the tax.
    When the Missouri Legislature approved sending a constitutional amendment for the tax to voters, it was promised that a list of projects to be funded by the sales tax revenue over its 10-year span would be available before the vote, Aug. 5.
    The tax issue will be known as Amendment 7 on the ballot. If passed, the state sales tax would increase by three-quarters of a cent for 10 years, starting in January 2015. The tax would not be included on groceries, prescription medication or fuel.
    The public has until 5 p.m. Thursday, July 3, to comment on the draft list of projects, which in total will cost about $4.8 billion statewide. The comment period was initially set to last about a week but state commissioners decided to expand the public comment period.
    “There will be hundreds of projects on this list, affecting every type of transportation – from roads and bridges to transit, ports, airports, and bike-ped facilities,” said Commission Chair Stephen Miller. “We want to make certain Missourians have the opportunity to let us know if they believe these are the projects that would have the biggest impact for their communities and the state.”
    After all public comments are reviewed, the draft list will be updated and approved by the state commission at its July 9 meeting. The draft regional priority list includes four projects that are in Phelps County or start in Phelps County and extend to a neighboring county.
    One of these projects is adding passing lanes on Route 63 for about 10 miles from where the highway splits from four lanes to two lanes north of Rolla to an area south of Vichy in Maries County.
    MoDOT Area Engineer Preston Kramer said the project would make that section of highway similar to the passing lanes on State Route 5 from Camdenton to Lebanon. A third continuous lane would be added, switching from a southbound lane to a northbound lane. “You get the benefit of a four-lane road with much less cost,” he said.
    Other projects include resurfacing and adding shoulders to Route 68 from Route 8 south of St. James to Route 19 in Dent County, replacing and repairing the Route B bridge over the Bourbeuse River in northeastern Phelps County near the Gasconade County line and replacing or repairing the Route D bridge over a Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad crossing just east of Jerome and just west of the Gasconade River.
    Page 2 of 2 - The complete list of all projects statewide is available online at www.modot.org/movingforward.
    Local planning agencies and transportation partners have been working with the state commission and MoDOT to develop the draft list.
    "We knew the local transportation partners had to lead the way to make sure the list represented every region of the state," said MoDOT's Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger. "Everyone benefits from transportation, but this list truly demonstrates a collaborative effort to reach the specific needs Missourians told us were the most important."
    Regional and community priority lists were first developed through the annual Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), the Blue Ribbon Citizen’s Committee on Missouri’s Transportation Needs and last year’s On the Move long range planning effort.
    “The regional priority lists are truly a reflection of the feedback that has been received during that timeframe,” said MoDOT Director Dave Nichols.
    “We work with MoDOT on a regular basis to identify the transportation needs in our communities and find appropriate solutions to address those needs,” said Bonnie Prigge, executive director of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC). “We were delighted to have a seat at the table with the other central Missouri planning partners to identify the top transportation priorities for the region that could be addressed should Missourians pass the sales tax proposal on Aug. 5.  The process was fair and open, with all of us agreeing on the area projects that should be tackled with additional funding.”
    Open house public meetings have been scheduled in every region of the state so local transportation planners and MoDOT representatives can answer questions and take comments about the draft list. No formal presentations will be made during the meetings.
    The two open houses scheduled for the MoDOT Central District will be Monday, June 16, from 4-7 p.m., at the ARC Center, 1701 W. Ash St., Columbia, and Thursday, June 19, from 4-7 p.m., at the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 428 E. Capitol St., Jefferson City.

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