Missouri’s Transportation Chief, McCaskill Discuss Infrastructure Investments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 25, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today discussed with Missouri’s transportation chief and a top federal transportation official the importance of infrastructure investments to make the state’s roads and bridges safer, and spur economic growth.

At the Senate Commerce Committee’s Surface Transportation Subcommittee hearing on the reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Act, McCaskill questioned Dave Nichols, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), on the need for a long-term federal funding commitment to transportation infrastructure and the challenges Missouri faces in meeting its cost-share obligations as state funding for infrastructure dwindles.

“Missouri has the 7th largest highway system in the country, and yet we’re 46th or 47th in revenue,” McCaskill said. “We have one of the lowest gas taxes in the country—the gas tax in Missouri hasn’t been raised in over 20 years, and so I know that [Dave Nichols] didn’t plan this, but he is going to be retiring at the apex of a crisis in our state, and I know that he is working every day to try to convey to the people of Missouri that this problem is not one that’s going to be solved in Washington. We do need to get our work done here, but we have a real problem in Jefferson City, with the amount of resources that are going towards this critical infrastructure that makes us the economic powerhouse we are in Missouri.”

McCaskill discussed with Nichols the financial impacts of stopping and starting state infrastructure projects, saying: “This is a little like us talking about an infrastructure bank without telling people that the money in the bank comes from tolling, if we just talk about performance metrics without talking about funding. Can you speak to the challenges that you’re facing at the state level with the uncertainty of our fits and starts of funding of highway transportation from Washington—obviously we have a deadline approaching in May, and the consequences of us embracing another six month extension, as opposed to what used to be non-controversial around here, which was a multi-year level spending amount for our highway trust fund.”

With 33,702 miles of highway, Missouri has the nation’s seventh largest state highway system, with more miles than Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas combined. The state also has more bridges longer than 1,000 feet than any other state. MoDOT estimates the agency will need an additional $1 billion per year for 20 years to protect and build on the investment Missourians have already made in their roads and bridges.

McCaskill also discussed issues with state infrastructure resources in Missouri, saying, “Let’s assume that something invades this place called commonsense, and we get a multi-year transportation bill done that will allow the kind of vision and planning that will make these projects cost-effective and real to the states—will Missouri have the resources to cost share?” Nichols replied that they will not. McCaskill said, “Well I hope people in Missouri figure this out before the legislators in Jefferson City consider another tax cut.”

McCaskill has teamed up with Republican colleagues including Senator Rob Portman of Ohio to write the Federal Permitting Improvement Act, to cut through federal red tape and expedite job-creating infrastructure projects. She has also joined with a bipartisan group of Senators, including Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, to introduce the Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment (BRIDGE) Act, which would create a federal infrastructure bank to help finance infrastructure projects.

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/jobs to read highlights of McCaskill’s fight to boost job opportunities for Missouri.

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