Fred H. Reiss

Urbana, Mo.

To the editor:

I’ve passed the same seven-mile stretch of U.S. 65 north of Springfield several times in the last month. Each time I wondered why the cedar trees and brush had been cut and neatly stacked on the side of the road. Last week, I saw the same situation along MIssouri 254 in Hickory County and on Route D east of Urbana. Last Friday, three crews were spaced out U.S. 65 with their large tractors and chipping/mulching machines, clearing all the debris from the road.

I contacted the Missouri Department of Transportation, and District Maintenance Supervisor Mike Middleton told me this was a statewide program aimed at removing cedar trees, brush and other trees from the rights of way along Missouri’s highways. He explained this was being done for three reasons and was paid for with taxpayer money. First was to beautify the rights of way. “Not like a golf course, but so they look nice to Missouri’s travelers.” Second was to remove the tree canopy so the sun can hit the roadway and melt snow and ice. Third was to prevent the trees from blocking signs.

I was astonished that he didn’t have any better reasons. I told him none of his explanations could justify the expenses for a program this large.

Again this year, Sen. Mike Kehoe has introduced a resolution to place a general sales tax increase for transportation on the November ballot. In the Missouri House, the same proposal has been sponsored by Rep. Dave Hinson and co-sponsored by Rep. Dave Schatz. Remember who they are when they are up for re-election.

Missourians don’t need a tax increase. This is a regressive tax and represents a 25 percent increase in the general sales tax that adversely affects us all. Most importantly, if the sales tax increase is on the ballot, cleverly disguised as a 1 percent increase or only a penny, remember how MoDOT wasted your tax money cutting cedar trees and vote no!