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Missouri Transportation Members Discuss a Rough Road Called Funding

Statistics indicate that some roads in Missouri are now smoother and safer than before, but transportation officials say funding new road projects over the next few years may be rocky. KSMU's Kristian Kriner reports.

Business groups and Missouri State University officials met this morning to discuss funding for transportation construction programs in Missouri.

This year, federal trust funds for Missouri road construction will be depleted with more road construction left to do.

In 2004, Amendment 3 was passed, which allowed some money from general state revenue to be used for transportation, but now that money is also gone.

Kirk Juranas is MODOT's district engineer for the Springfield area.

He says transportation officials need funding to continue to improve Interstate 70 and Interstate 44 and also meet regional road needs.

"We're here to talk about roads and bridges. We're talking about other ways to get around, with the higher gas prices people are finding that they want options. They want transit for instance to be able to get on a bus and go from the south of Springfield to the north of Springfield," Juranas said.

Juranas says one funding option to help continue to improve Missouri transportation would be to increase the general sales tax in Missouri.

Senator Bill Stouffer is the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

He says it is up to Missouri voters to decide how much money should be used to improve transportation in Missouri.

"Let the citizens of Missouri decide what kind of transportation system they want in the future and I think we have an opportunity here to either decide to take advantage of the opportunity or we can let roads deteriorate again like they were several years ago," Stouffer said.

Stouffer says these transportation funding options will help make traveling easier and safer for anyone who drives in Missouri.

Transportation committee members say they will continue to discuss funding options and major road construction projects with Missouri voters until a funding bill is passed.

For KSMU News, I'm Kristian Kriner.