Sales Tax Would Rebuild, Widen I-70

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Transportation could rip up and replace more than 200 miles of Interstate 70 pavement if voters approve a .75 of one cent sales tax in August.The tax would add 7.5 cents to a $10 purchase.

MoDOT released its draft project list Friday and it includes reconstructing and widening I-70 through the heart of the state. I-70 would become six lanes from Wentzville in St. Charles County, through Columbia, to Independence in eastern Jackson County. 

Nearly 60 percent of Missouri residents live within 15 miles of I-70. Former MoDOT Director Kevin Keith warned Missourians in 2009 that I-70 could eventually become a "gravel parking lot" if the department cannot get a new funding source. 

MoDOT spends $70-90 million annually on repairing the road. 

Missouri voters will get to decide on the sales tax increase on the Aug. 5 ballot. Both chambers of the Legislature approved the ballot proposal in May. Legistlative researchers estimate the tax would generate $6 billion for transportation over a decade.

Supporters have said the tax increase is crucial to getting Missouri's infrastructure up to speed with modern needs. They said it will generate economic activity and jobs. 

Opponents, including Gov. Jay Nixon, have said the tax is regressive and will place additional tax burden on lower and middle income families. Some fiscal conservatives have also opposed the proposal because it is a large tax increase.