MoDOT will be out of money if funding for transportation infrastructure projects doesn't change

MoDOT will be out of money if funding for transportation infrastructure projects doesn't change. That's according to Kevin Keith, the Director of MoDOT.

He was the guest speaker for the Kirksville Rotary Club luncheon Wednesday afternoon. Keith said there needs to be a change in the way Missouri and the rest of the nation fund transportation infrastructure.

According to Keith, using a fuel tax is no longer the solution because of the increase in fuel-efficient cars and trucks on the roadways.

He said the Highway Trust Fund is out of money.

"The highway trust fund is insolvent because the revenue we get from people driving is going down because people are driving a different mix of vehicles that get much better fuel economy which is probably good for the country as a whole, but it's having a devastating impact on how we fund infrastructure, " Keith said. "If we don't solve this problem, five years from now we will not be able to match federal funds coming to Missouri and continue any road work at all. "

Keith said MoDOT needs to receive $230 million in the next five years in order to break even. Keith said it will probably be up to the voters in Missouri to solve this issue. His recommendation would be incorporating a sales tax to support transportation infrastructure projects.

Keith said right now, MoDOT receives $700 million for its construction program. Keith said according to a study conducted in 2008, in order for MoDOT to stay afloat for the next 20 years and complete the necessary construction projects, the department will need an additional billion dollars. Keith said right now, it costs $10 million per mile to build a highway.

During the luncheon, Keith also discussed the cuts MoDOT has been forced to make due to the current financial climate. He said in 2012, they reduced their personnel statewide by 1200, bringing them to a total of 5100 employees by the end of 2012. Also, they have closed 131 buildings and three district offices.

In terms of services, he said they are mowing the grass less, and plowing snow differently. For instance, they are cutting back on overtime overnight plowing when it is not necessary. He said that has saved the department $10 million.

Also, the department is putting up less signs. Before, they would replace a sign every ten years. Now, he said they will only replace a sign when it is necessary. He hopes that signs will now get 12 to 13 years of usage.

"We're trying to do things differently to be more effective."