JEFFERSON CITY - The state transportation commission gave the go-ahead Wednesday to issue an additional $550 million in bonds to improve Missouri’s roads.
The new bonds are expected to be issued later this month. They will raise to $1.7 billion the total amount issued since voters approved a constitutional amendment three years ago to direct more money to highways.
The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to issue an additional $350 million of bonds next year under the authority of that constitutional amendment, but then intends to stop.
The 2004 measure authorized bonds backed by the redirection of all vehicle sales taxes to roads and bridges, instead of a portion going to the state’s general revenues. The amendment also reduced the amount of road fund revenues, such as fuel taxes and driver’s license fees, that go to other state agencies performing transportation-related duties.
Although the amendment provided an influx of money, that funding will drop off after 2010 as the state stops issuing new bonds and focuses more on paying them off.
When counting bonds _ both previously issued and planned _ that are unrelated to the constitutional amendment, the department said its total bond issuance by 2010 should be about $3.4 billion. It’s projected to cost about $4.6 billion in principal and interest to pay those bonds off over 20 years, the department said Wednesday.