With the roar of traffic from U.S. 63 behind him, U.S. Sen. Kit Bond offered his gratitude to supporters of the highway reauthorization bill Friday at the State Highway Shed.
Bond said the bill would provide the state with $1.5 billion more over the next six years to improve Missouri roads, highways and bridges, which he said are the third worst in the country.
Also included in the bill is an $8.2 billion provision for safety improvements across the United States, Bond said.
The senator thanked the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Missouri highway patrol, labor and business groups, elected officials and others for contributing to a petition signed by 43,000 Missourians supporting the bill.
Bond said the highway bill would provide the state with another $250 million per year for highway and bridge improvements and create as many as 71,000 jobs.
Bruce Wylie, president of the American Council of Engineering Companies, who also spoke at the press conference, called the bill “an economic shot in the arm for our firms that do work for the city, county and MoDOT.”
“It’s not just a matter of economics, not just a matter of jobs; it’s a matter of safety. This bill emphasizes safety,” Bond said.
The bill passed in the Senate and received what Bond referred to as great bipartisan support. It was expected to continue moving to conference with the House of Representatives, but movement was held up by opponents of the bill.
Following 15 weeks of stagnation, Bond led a filibuster demanding the bill be either sent to conference at the House or a public vote be held.
Bond stated that the House of Representatives, the bill’s next stop, has a very different vision for the highway authorization bill than he has. The House favors a bill allotting funds to highway development in Alaska. According to Bond, such a bill would give Alaska a $5 return on every $1 paid in federal taxes.