The Missouri Department of Transportation could ignore voters voice in I-70 toll road proposal

5:50 PM, Jan 23, 2012   |    comments
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St. Louis (KSDK) - Turning part of Interstate 70 into a toll road might not be a popular move with drivers, but now it looks like they may not have a say in the matter.

The Missouri Department of Transportation believes the plan to charge motorists money to drive the interstate on a nearly 200 mile stretch between St. Louis and Kansas City doesn't need voter approval.

The tolls would translate into 10 to 15 cents a mile, which is $20 - $30 for a one-way trip to Kansas City.

As one of the first interstate projects in the country, that means the stretch of I-70 from around Wentzville to Independence is also one of the oldest. Nearly 60 years in, with punishment from countless vehicles, it needs to be re-done and have more lanes.

MoDOT says a toll road is the answer to pay for the project which could cost as much as $4 billion.

"I don't see the reason that they're doing it because we're paying taxes to build the roads anyway," said Gilbert North outside a store in Wentzville.

But MoDOT says taxes are in short supply. It wants to team with private sector companies who would fund the project and collect tolls to get their investment back.

Under that scenario, MoDOT says a public vote wouldn't be necessary, just approval by state lawmakers.

North doesn't like the idea.

"Everybody out to have a say on what they're doing in the state and they're trying to run this over everybody," he said.

But Wentzville resident Sharon Smythe doesn't mind not voting on this issue.

"I don't know if the public has too much, you know, how much they know about it to know about it," said Smythe.

There are groups that do not agree with MoDOT's interpretation of the law. For instance, the Missouri Trucking Association believes even with a partnership with companies, voters should be required to vote on it.

The issue is being sorted out in Jefferson City.

Associated Press

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