Drivers Speak Up About I-70 Toll at Public Forum
COLUMBIA - More than 100 people came out to the public forum at the ARC in Columbia Monday night to discuss the controversial proposal of making Interstate 70 a toll road. With the tolls, drivers would pay approximately 10 to 15 cents per mile. The forum had a panel that included MoDOT Director Kevin Keith and state representative Thomas Long.
Keith explained why adding tolls now would be the best choice for rebuilding the 60-year-old interstate. He said with the low interest rates, this would be the best time to take on the project, that would cost somewhere between $1.2 billion and $4 billion and replace 200 miles of interstate between Wentzville and Kansas City. There are 36 states that use tolls, but Missouri's not on that list. He also argued the construction would bring thousands of jobs.
But there was plenty of opposition to Keith's toll proposal. Rep. Long wondered how a toll isn't the same thing as a tax. People at the meeting worried that once I-70 becomes a toll road it will always be one. Some had concerns about how it would impact the trucking and delivery business. Many people were also just concerned about paying more money to travel on the interstate, noting how gas is already high.
Other possible options for funding the project include increasing the sales tax and/or gas tax. Ultimately the general assembly will get to decide about the toll legislation that was introduced to the legislature Monday.