Missouri bill would increase I-70, I-44 to eight lanes

| 2/5/2007

If a leading Missouri state lawmaker gets his way, the state's two main arteries would get a little wider. And, large trucks would get their own lanes.

Senate Transportation Committee chairman Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, has introduced a bill that would expand Interstates 70 and 44 to eight lanes throughout the state.

Trucks would be free to travel along two lanes, in the same direction. Other vehicles would use the remaining lanes. A median would divide the truck lanes.

To foot the bill for the highway overhauls, the measure would authorize a 1-cent sales tax increase during the next 10 years.

Stouffer dubbed the legislation as an economic opportunity.

"These are major arteries - not just for Missouri but for the United States," Stouffer told The Springfield News-Leader.

If approved by legislators, the bill would go before voters for final approval.

The price tag for the improvements along I-44 is tabbed at $4 billion. Work on I-70 would run about $3 billion, The News-Leader reported.

The state would be authorized to enter into design-build contracts to complete the highway work.

The design-build contracting process allows contractors to submit plans to design and construct each project. Typically, one firm designs a highway and another builds it, with the two tasks bid separately.

The bill - SB310 - is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

- By Keith Goble, state legislative editor