- Associated Press - Monday, July 7, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri officials have added money for streetcars in Kansas City and more highway projects around the state as part of a revised project list that would be funded if voters approve a three-quarters cent sales tax next month.

The updated draft project list was provided Monday to The Associated Press by the Missouri Department of Transportation in response to a Sunshine Law request seeking cost estimates for each of the more than 800 projects proposed to be funded by the tax.

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday on projects to be financed by proposed Constitutional Amendment 7. The tax proposal will go before voters Aug. 5.

The proposal is projected by lawmakers to generate about $5.4 billion over the 10-year life of the tax. Part of that would go to cities and counties, leaving $4.8 billion for the state transportation department.

The widening of Interstate 70 to six lanes instead of four across Missouri remains the most expensive item. It would receive $500 million from the new tax revenues, with the rest of the $1.5 billion cost to come from existing revenue sources.

Other costly projects include $350 million for Interstate 270 and $200 million for improvements on I-70, including at the intersection with Interstate 170, in the St. Louis area. The widening of parts of U.S. 63 and U.S. 50 in central Missouri are each projected to cost more than $90 million.

The department released an initial project list June 13 but declined to disclose cost estimates for each of the projects during a public comment period about them. The AP sought the cost figures under the Missouri open-records law, and the department released them along with a revised list dated Monday.

Transportation officials said most of the projects remained the same, but some changes were made upon the suggestions of local leaders. Several of the projects added to the list would receive state funding only if local governments also cover part of the costs.

“There’s not enough money to do everything everyone wants,” said MoDOT Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger. But under the proposal, “we’re spending quite a bit of money on just taking care of infrastructure that’s worn out, whether that’s resurfacing a road or replacing a bridge or replacing an old bus” for a city public transit system.

The revised project list includes $124 million in state funding for streetcar lines in Kansas City, contingent upon approval of $356 million in local funding.

Hassinger said the streetcar funding is one of several items that provide more specific details of projects that had been labeled in the original draft list as general public transportation initiatives in the Kansas City area.

Another added item would provide $24 million in state funds for the purchase of a former Rock Island Rail Line from Kansas City to Pleasant Hill for use as a hiking and biking trail, contingent upon $48 million from Jackson County.

In southwest Missouri, a new Interstate 44 interchange at Marshfield was included in the revised project list, again contingent on local governments covering part of the cost.

In northeast Missouri, the revised project list drops a proposed interchange at Interstate 70 in Warrenton and adds a lane expansion for U.S. 54 east of Mexico, Missouri.


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