JEFFERSON CITY - The task force formed to look at transportation needs and issues in Missouri gave its final recommendations Tuesday afternoon.
Lawmakers formed the 21st Century Missouri Transportation Task force in 2017. The bipartisan task force was made up of 23 participants from the Missouri House, Senate, executive branch and private sector. Ten public meetings across the state yielded dozens of testimonies about various issues and concerns related to transportation in the state.
"Our statewide system connects Missouri's people with every vital part of their lives," the task force said in its report. "Missouri is poised (with strategic policymaking and proper investment) to have a world-class transportation and to be a leader in travel, logistics, and freight distribution."
Aging infrastructure and its effects on safety and economic development were among the concerns discussed by the task force. The report cited grades on state infrastructure given by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which never got higher than a "C."
In looking at highway safety, the task force mentioned physical upgrades like rumble strips and median guard cables, but said driver and passenger behavior - especially distracted driving - continue to be a significant factor in crashes and roadway deaths. The state ranked last in preventable deaths, the task force said, citing a report by the National Safety Council.
The task force also looked at funding for state transportation needs, finding "long-term funding neglect and shortfalls" have left Missouri with more than $800 million in unfunded transportation priorities. That, the report said, leads to a lack of improvement for roads and bridges, traffic delays, and cases where roads needing reconstruction are "merely maintained."
The task force offered a three-part plan for solving these and other issues. Part one involves immediate-impact investment, comprising measures like a motor fuel tax and a dedicated revenue stream of $50-70 million annually for transportation needs.
Part two covers sustainable and diversified transportation funding for future needs. Options presented to lawmakers include increased registration fees for electric vehicles, taxes on electric charging stations, and revising vehicle registration schedules to be based on fuel efficiency rather than horsepower.
Part three focuses on making project delivery more efficient, possibly through partnerships with private entities, as well as improving highway safety through legislation such as banning distracted driving, a primary seat belt law, and more graduated driver's-license training requirements.