With a nod to “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, a Missouri transportation commissioner wants Interstate 70 “to boldly go where we have not gone before.”

That’s ambitious. Most motorists would settle for a safe, smooth ride to and from St. Louis and Kansas City, but traditional efforts to finance improvements have been stymied.

Stephen R. Miller, chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, on Wednesday invited creative ideas for transforming the deteriorating, heavily traveled east-west corridor into a “Road to Tomorrow.”

He said a team of experts from the Missouri Department of Transportation has been assembled to evaluate ideas submitted by private industry, entrepreneurs, innovators and others.

“Just as MoDOT’s design-build projects over the last decade have produced insights and innovations not previously imagined,” Miller said, “we are confident that offering free rein to human creativity and a designated site for implementation will generate the very best in American ingenuity.”

Gov. Jay Nixon also is on board. “As we continue to work to identify a solution to our transportation funding needs,” Nixon said, “I appreciate the Missouri Department of Transportation for taking a pro-active approach and embracing new technologies that will pave the way toward a brighter future.”

Will this outside-the-box approach work?

Who knows? We do know strides are being made exponentially — in vehicles, navigation, infrastructure, materials and more.

And the company, think tank or creative genius that makes the next major breakthrough in affordable, comfortable transportation stands to gain both fame and fortune.

The team of MoDOT evaluators — who will work without extra pay — plans to forward its findings to lawmakers when they convene in January.

Missouri motorists eagerly will await the results.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission. 

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