MoDOT Announces Uncertain Financial Future
JEFFERSON CITY- MoDOT representatives announced Thursday they will no longer add new projects to the five-year construction budget due to an uncertain financial future. MoDOT made the announcement at the Missouri Transportation Conference in Jefferson City.
MoDOT projects its annual construction budget will decrease from the $1.3 billion budget it had a few years ago to $700 million in 2015. The budget is expected to continue decreasing to $325 million per year from 2017 to 2019. The 2017 budget fell short of the baseline annual amount required to maintain statewide roads and bridges.
MoDOT said declining fuel revenues and increased building costs are among the reasons for the funding decrease. MoDOT Director Dave Nichols said building costs have increased by about 200 percent in some areas.
In addition to the project cuts, the Cost Sharing program will be suspended. Cost Sharing allows MoDOT to partner with counties or cities to complete projects that are important to the community. The most recently completed project in Columbia was the Route Z roundabout. The roundabout helped ease traffic congestion between Interstate 70 and Battle High School. The Cost Sharing program is suspended until a financial solution is determined.
Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Chairman Joe Carmichael said he hopes to renew the Cost Sharing program in the future when the funds become available.
Nichols said MoDOT has made some steps toward a solution including reducing staff by 1,200 and closing some facilities. Those changes along with others have saved $500 million, but according to Nichols it is not enough.
Although no new projects will be added to the budget, projects the Missouri Highways and Transportation Committee has already committed to will be finished until the project budget runs out.