MODOT chief says making I-70 toll road would finance reconstruction

Jan 27, 2012

The head of the Missouri Department of Transportation says charging tolls on Interstate 70 is the only real option for funding reconstruction of the highway, if the state wants to do something about it right now. 

MODOT Director Kevin Keith told a gathering of the Missouri Chamber yesterday that converting I-70 to a toll road could have short-term benefits, namely, job creation: “This creates, say, middle of the road, 10-thousand jobs a year for the 6 to 8 years while it’s under contract, and returns 30 billion dollars of economic development in our state with a rebuilt Interstate 70.”

Keith says the only other likely option to pay for rebuilding I-70 would be to raise fuel taxes, but tax hikes remain unpopular among both GOP lawmakers and Democratic Governor Jay Nixon – and Keith adds that he thinks any public referendum to raise fuel taxes would be defeated by Missouri voters.