One of the issues that is currently being faced in Missouri is whether Interstate 70 should be made into a toll road. Under the current plan, use of the road would cost drivers roughly 10 or 15 cents per mile.
The state wants to rebuild the highway, which the Missouri Department of Transportation has rated as poor. The roads in Missouri are currently ranked the worst in the United States.
By instituting a toll on the road, Kevin Keith, the director of MoDOT, predicts it will cost 2 to 4 billion dollars to fix the roads, which the tolls could be used to help pay. It also predicts that this would create anywhere from 6,000 to 12,000 jobs a year.
Drivers who would drive on I-70 would be charged by the mile, with semi-trucks paying double the price as cars. A car driving from St. Louis to Kansas City would pay roughly around 25 to 30 dollars for a 250 mile trip, just on the toll. A trip across Missouri would cost drivers at the very least 60 dollars on gas and tolls.
For truckers, the price, as stated before, is double. So, we can infer that they would pay at the very least 50-60 dollars, along with gas, while trying to get to their destination.
Faced with these prices, any person in today’s economy would look to save their money, which means finding alternate routes. This means that the traffic would be displaced from I-70 to the other “free” highways in Missouri.
One such route would be to use U.S. 50, which would get the driver from St. Louis to Kansas City, with a few side roads at the end of the trip.
What’s the issue with that?
The issue is central Missouri. Highway 50, which runs through my hometown of Linn, and through the state capital, Jefferson City,is a two lane for a good portion, and not in the best of shape. Linn cannot handle that kind of traffic, and Jefferson City, with its five stop lights on highway 50, would just be troublesome for all of that traffic seeking alternative routes. Displacing all of that traffic to such a road would cause bottlenecks and more accidents.
In an effort to generate more revenue to fix roads in Missouri, MoDOT’s plan would actually create more accidents and need to put money towards other highways which see the effects of drivers avoiding I-70.
For the record, Missouri voters have already rejected two attempts by state authorities to amend the state constitution to create toll roads. In the last attempt, it was defeated in every county in Missouri but one.
And the worst part about this plan? MoDOT director Kevin Keith is saying they can go around Missouri voters and turn the road into a toll road legally. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article in which Keith said “We believe we can do the public-private partnership for I-70, as we outlined it, legally.”
MoDOT also says that the toll will only cause about 10% of drivers to stop using I-70.
My issue is not with the toll, but the toll prices. The suggested rate would gain a lot of profit, but would cause, I believe, more than 10% of drivers to find alternative routes. I suggest trying a different option at the pricing, but also, I would like to know how you propose to charge by the mile. How will you be able to measure the miles used by each vehicle?
The fact of the matter is that a person can either drive from St. Louis to Kansas City, and pay 25 to 30 dollars to drive the 250 miles of I-70, or drive the 270 miles using U.S. 50. Which would you choose?
Here’s a video, courtesy of Missouri News Horizon, featuring Kevin Keith on the topic.