COLUMBIA —The financial forecast is looking gloomy for future transportation projects in Missouri.
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approved a two-pronged suspension at its monthly meeting in Jefferson City on Wednesday.
The first is a suspension of new projects for the department's cost share program, which matches private or public funds for state highway and bridge projects that encourage economic development.
The second is a suspension of new construction or projects on the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP. The program outlines a five-year plan of construction projects that the Missouri Department of Transportation will take on.
"It's a pretty dramatic step we are taking,"said Lloyd J. Carmichael, chairman of the commission. He said it's necessary because of the financial situation.
The suspensions will not affect the 11 projects that are on the STIP for Boone County — two of which are funded through cost share programs with the City of Columbia and MoDOT, according to the 2011 - 2015 highway and bridge construction schedule.
The projects include:
- Several pavement improvements, including southbound lanes of U.S. 63 from Silver Fork Creek to Route 763 and Interstate 70 westbound lanes from the Callaway County line to one mile east of the Lake of the Woods interchange.
- Construction of additional lanes to Stadium Boulevard from Bernadette Drive to Route TT.
- U.S. 63 bridge improvements over Cedar Creek.
The suspensions came after a presentation by Roberta Broeker, MoDOT's chief financial officer, on the decline in federal funding the state will receive over the next five years.
"We should be less optimistic about federal funds," she said.
Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes noted safety concerns on I-70 in his presentation at the meeting.
"Nine days out of 10, there's a first responder going to I-70," Matthes said.
The commission recognized the need for I-70 improvements but has no money to begin the needed construction on the aging infrastructure.
"We don't have the funds," commissioner Gregg Smith said. "We need (Matthes) to help us come up with ideas."
The next meeting of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission will be Feb. 11. The location has not been determined.
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