Missouri halts hundreds of road projects

| 9/19/2002

The Missouri Department of Transportation said Tuesday it is delaying work on hundreds of long-range road projects because of a lack of money. Short on cash, state transportation commissioners have said they will focus on road maintenance rather than new construction.

The department sent about 80 letters to engineering firms last week, suspending or killing between $30 million and $40 million in design contracts. MDOT also is canceling or delaying right-of-way land purchases totaling more than $90 million.

In August, voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that would have raised about $483 million annually by increasing the state's sales and motor fuel taxes.

Officials warned before the August election that, if the proposition failed, the department would shift its focus to maintaining existing roads and away from building new ones. The savings announced Tuesday, which total more than $120 million over four years, will help the department cover immediate cash needs resulting from bond debts and lower revenues.