Kansas City, Meet the 325 Plan
The decreasing amount of funding available for state highway improvements has led the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to plan for lean times. Their draft proposal is the 325 Plan, which denotes the amount of money ($325 million) MoDOT will have for construction contracts in 2017. The amount MoDOT claims to require to maintain the state highway system in its current state of repair is $485 million in new construction contracts.
As we wrote before, the plan does not simply prioritize the highways that are most used for commercial and personal transportation. Rather, MoDOT will split state highways into a primary and secondary system. The primary system will include the highways necessary to connect all of Missouri’s communities, while the secondary system mostly handles local traffic. For this reason, Missouri highways that carry less than 500 vehicles a day are sometimes in the primary system while heavily trafficked US routes in urban areas are sometimes in the secondary system.
The primary system under the 325 Plan will cover about 8,000 miles of Missouri’s 34,000-mile highway system, and it will receive the funding to maintain its current state of repair. The secondary system will be maintained as much as funds allow, but their state of repair will deteriorate over time. A map of the 325 primary highways in the Kansas City area is shown below.
All told, only around 900 of Jackson, Clay, and Platte County’s 1,800-plus miles of state highways will be included in the 325 Plan’s primary system. While that includes all of Kansas City’s interstate highways, it excludes most Missouri routes and as much as half of the US routes in those three counties. Among those left out are parts of US 169 and US 71, both of which carry thousands of trucks and tens of thousands of passenger vehicles every day. These well-published omissions have led some to believe MoDOT is attempting to spread the pain wide, instead focusing on maintaining the most efficient highway system, in an effort to convince residents to increase funding.
Whether or not MoDOT’s 325 Plan is politically motivated, there is no doubt that without increased funds parts of the state highway system in the Kansas City area are going to suffer. That is not good for quality of life or the economic competitiveness of the region. If that situation is to be avoided, Missouri will have to modernize the user-funding base that supports the state’s critical roadways.