Missouri wants ideas for fixing Interstate 70, and for how to pay for it


Interstate 70’s fast-crumbling stretch through Missouri badly needs fixing. On Wednesday, the state’s highway commission opened a virtual suggestion box, emphasizing that it’s especially eager for ideas that include a way to pay for a better roadway.

“We don’t have a plan. We don’t have the money. We are looking for ideas,” said Stephen Miller, the chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

“We’re broke.”

At a meeting in Kansas City, the commission announced the designation of a 200-mile strip of I-70 — from Independence to Wentzville — as “The Road to Tomorrow” to test innovative ideas for constructing and funding a tech-friendly road.

The national call for ideas, Miller said, aims to carry the message that Missouri is ripe for creating a “new generation of transportation” defining future highways in both form and function.

Without more money — state lawmakers and voters have repeatedly balked in recent years on transportation tax hikes — Miller said Missouri is doomed to watch the east-west artery “deteriorate and decay.”

About 60 percent of the state’s population lives within 30 miles of I-70. So, Miller said, “we have no choice but to dream big.” The only deadline, he said, is to do something before the road completely breaks down, adding, “We are going to move as quickly as we can.”

His hope is that creative minds from all over will come up with innovative highway proposals and that private industry or private individuals might step up to help pay for them.

“Just as design-build projects over the last decade have produced insights and innovations that could not have previously been imagined, (the commission) believes that offering free reign to human creativity and a designated site for implementation will generate the very best in American ingenuity,” the Missouri Department of Transportation said in a statement.

MoDOT will receive and vet ideas as they come in. Information about how to submit ideas is at www.modot.org/road2tomorrow.

“There are no bad ideas. Our doors are open,” said Tom Blair, a member of the team that will study ideas for I-70.

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Sourec: Kansas City Star