In May the Missouri Legislature passed , which would increase the state sales tax rate by 3/4% to provide additional funding to MoDOT. Despite the fact that Missouri has some of the lowest fuel taxes in the country, MoDOT has been pushing instead for a sales tax increase since 2013. If approved by voters in November of 2014, the 3/4% increase would increase taxes by about 6 billion dollars over ten years. The bill instructs each regional planning agency to develop a project list to be published before the November election. In the St. Louis region that agency is East-West Gateway. I’ve been selected as one of dozens of people to participate in the project vetting process to select regional highway, transit, bicycle, pedestrian, freight, bridge, and port projects that could be built with the funding.
On May 21st we were provided with an initial project list of high, medium, and low priority projects that were being considered. The projects were primarily generated by MoDOT with East West Gateway staff input. I’ve attached the project lists below. I was not expecting to be thrilled with the initial list, but it was much worse than I had anticipated. The high-priority projects are incredibly skewed towards highway infrastructure. Transit was clearly a very secondary priority in MoDOT’s project list. The current list in no way represents a compelling vision for St. Louis voters to approve. In fact, much of the spending on highways would further erode urban land values and increase suburban sprawl. Its spending that actually hurts our region.
Residents of St. Louis City and County consistently express a desire for a better transit system. This tax increase could be an opportunity to provide better service, but MoDOT’s priorities do not invest nearly enough in local transit. This is not keeping with the expressed wishes of St. Louis area residents in MoDOT’s own surveys. Should the tax increase pass, it will likely represent the only opportunity in the next decade to secure substantial additional funding for transit in the St. Louis area. The project lists below are initial and subject change, but must be completed before the November election. Email MoDOT’s chief district engineer Greg Horn with your feedback,
What will our region’s future look like? Billions more in highway spending in the next decade, or a meaningful improvement in our transit network?