States covet stimulus grants, Missouri would build truck lanes

| 9/28/2009

Cash-strapped states are getting in line for a share of federal stimulus funds to pay for transportation projects. Among them is Missouri, where officials are hoping to land at least $200 million to build 30 miles of truck-only lanes along I-70.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that all 50 states have applied for a share of $1.5 billion in grants under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, program.

States have submitted 1,400 projects so far that would total $57 billion. Approximately half of the projects are highways or bridges with the rest focusing on transit, railroad, port infrastructure or multimodal applications, DOT officials announced.

Preference will be given to innovative projects, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated.

Innovation is something Missouri is hoping to cash in on with the truck-lanes project.

Missouri officials are hoping that their proposed 30 miles of truck-only lanes as a demonstration project in Saline and Cooper counties will eventually lead to the development of truck lanes in the entire 200-mile corridor from Kansas City to St. Louis. However, the 200-mile proposal lacks funding according to MoDOT officials.

“If selected, this project would revolutionize interstate corridors that have heavy freight movements, separating cars from long-haul semis,” MoDOT Outreach Program Coordinator Bob Brendel stated online.

“It would demonstrate just how the concept would improve safety, reduce congestion and allow for efficiencies in freight flows.”

The Missouri-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association believes that while the concept of separating cars and trucks may be intriguing, the cost would outweigh the benefits – especially if truckers were forced to shoulder the burden in tolls or higher taxes.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer recently told Land Line that the truck-lane proposal would amount to one of the most expensive ways to expand highway capacity and that there would be better things for the state to spend the money on.

The U.S. DOT will announce the winners of the federal stimulus grants in January or February. The TIGER grant program is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved by Congress and the Obama administration earlier this year.

– By David Tanner, staff writer

See related Land Line article:
Missouri truck lanes approved but lack funding