Missouri seeks comments on proposed truck-only lanes

| 3/4/2009

Truck-only lanes are at the top of the Missouri DOT’s list to expand lane capacity on 200 miles of Interstate 70 from Kansas City to St. Louis. State transportation officials are accepting public comments until March 16 on the proposal.

Lawmakers will eventually decide how such a project is funded. Preliminary possibilities include tolling or an increase in the state sales tax. Taxes based on miles traveled have also been discussed.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has a prime view of I-70 from its headquarters at Exit 24 east of Kansas City. Heavy trucks make up 30-40 percent of the traffic on the interstate according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

OOIDA officials generally support the concept of truck lanes but remain concerned about funding and the burden truckers may be asked to bear for something that affects all vehicle classes. MoDOT officials have visited OOIDA headquarters on a few occasions to talk about the truck-lane proposal.

MoDOT’s preferred option is to construct two new lanes in each direction and move truck traffic to the inside two lanes each way.

If funding is not accelerated, the project could take 30 years to pan out, MoDOT officials said.

A few years ago, the federal government identified I-70 from Missouri to Ohio as a “corridor of the future,” which gives it priority status among interstate improvements that could involve tolling. Other than paying for studies, the federal government has not set aside funds to expand I-70.

Missouri is using its portion of study funding to pursue its truck-lane proposal.

MoDOT opened a comment period Jan. 30, which lasts until March 16.

Click here to view the I-70 project Web site and here to fill out an online comment form.

– By David Tanner, staff writer