You don't have to be an economist or a civil engineer to figure out where the road we are on will lead – nowhere.
Missouri has nearly 34,000 miles of state highway and more than 10,000 state bridges (the seventh-largest state highway system in the nation), yet our gas tax – 17 cents per gallon – is the fourth lowest in the nation. It hasn't been raised in two decades.
The result is what you may have read about: Missouri has the dubious honor of ranking among the worst states in the nation for structurally deficient bridges. Thirteen percent of our bridges have some problem with either the decking, the superstructure or substructure. And, Jasper County ranks as one of the worst counties in Missouri with structurally deficient state bridges.
The simple fact is that we have ignored infrastructure investment – of all kinds – for too long.
We have the chance to make matters right and vote for a 10-cent increase in the gas tax that will be phased in, starting with 2.5 cents per year in 2019, topping out at 27 cents in 2022. If approved, the tax would generate nearly $300 million more per year for roads and bridges once it is fully implemented.
Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe was recently in Neosho making a pitch to support Proposition D, the gas tax increase that will come before voters on the November ballot.
"This is not a Democrat or Republican issue," Kehoe said. "This is an infrastructure investment issue."
Democrats or Republicans, liberal or conservatives, it doesn't matter, we all drive the same roads, cross the same bridges, and we all reap the rewards of infrastructure investment.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements returns $5.20 in the form of lower vehicle maintenance costs, decreased delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, lower road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.
"I believe that infrastructure is the key to economic development," Kehoe said. "I hope that this goes through, not because I love taxes or because I want to tax you more, but because I think for the safety of our families and for the best of our economy it is a great step forward in that process."
We urge everyone to support Proposition D in November.
– Joplin Globe