Missouri to study truck-only lanes on I-70

| Friday, September 14, 2007

The Missouri Department of Transportation will spend $2 million to study the viability of truck-only lanes on Interstate 70 from Kansas City to St. Louis.

Funding for the study will come from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Corridors of the Future” program, which was announced in 2006 as a way to fight congestion via private-sector investment and tolling.

Funding for reconstructing and reconfiguring I-70 in the 250-mile stretch – estimated at $3.5 billion – has not yet been determined.

Missouri transportation officials joined with state departments in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio to file a combined “Corridors of the Future” application.

“One of the ideas that shook out of that effort was the concept of dedicated truck lanes that would benefit both the freight industry as well as the safety and congestion issues that exist on I-70,” MODOT spokesman Bob Brendel told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio.

Brendel said dedicated truck lanes would separate trucks from passenger vehicles and restrict them to their respective lanes.

“Obviously there are some local service trucks that would still share the other lanes with cars, but the heaviest volume of trucks would be traveling on their own lanes,” Brendel said.

Brendel explained how the concept came about.

“Trucks account for about 35 percent of traffic on I-70 today and truck traffic is growing by more than double the automobile traffic on I-70. It’s growing 2 to 3 percent a year,” he said. “We continually hear from the public a concern about truck traffic from a safety perspective.”

Brendel said MoDOT’s $2 million portion of $5 million in “Corridors of the Future” funding for the four states will be used to study truck lanes and methods such as tolling, public-private partnerships and higher fuel taxes to pay for them.

“That has not been determined, although this study will look at what the viability and impacts are of those various funding mechanisms,” Brendel said.

Back in April, Missouri state Rep. Neal St. Onge, R-Ballwin, introduced a bill to raise fuel taxes to pay for truck-only lanes, but the bill died in committee at the end of the session in May.

The U.S. DOT recently outlined other projects under the “Corridors of the Future” program. Those include:

  • $21.8 million for Interstate 95 from Florida to the Canadian border
  • $15 million for Interstate 15 in Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California
  • $15 million for Interstate 5 in California, Oregon and Washington
  • $8.6 million for Interstate 10 from California to Florida
  • $800,000 for Interstate 69 from Texas to Michigan

– By David Tanner, staff writer
david_tanner@landlinemag.com

“Land Line Now” Staff Reporter Reed Black contributed to this report

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