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      State looks for more highway money

      About 30 transportation advocates from across northeast Missouri gathered as the Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Transportation met to talk about needs and potential funding solutions.

      NEMO transportation representives know the needs, but the challenge is generating money for highway and safety projects.

      Due to a bill recently passed by Congress, that task gets tougher, "Missouri stands to get $70 million a year less than what we received over the old funding," said MoDOT Chief Financial Officer Roberta Broeker.

      Transportation in Missouri and other states has long been funded by the gas tax. However, people are now driving less, vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient and fuel collection has declined for four straight years.

      Now, the burden is on Missouri to put a plan in motion to generate revenue.

      "Are you willing to pay more for their needs and what would be the best way, or most friendly way, to collect the revenue that it would need?" said committee Co-Chairman Rod Jetton.

      Suggestions have included toll roads, public and private partnerships and increased vehicle and license fees.

      The Director of the Highway 63 Transportation Corporation has seen a creatively funded program from start to finish. "We found that when people understand, and know what they're going to get, they are willing to pass the sales tax. And so I think that is one of the things we would recommend," said Harriet Beard.

      That project was the four lane Highway 63 from Kirksville to Macon.

      Work now continues on the four laning of Highway 63 from Kirksville to Ottumwa.