Missouri has seen an extraordinary budget surplus in recent times, yet the governor’s primary focus on widening Interstate 70 from St. Louis to Kansas City has hit a roadblock.
If you venture westward on I-70 out of St. Louis, you might be perplexed by the fact that the interstate narrows from four lanes to three to two in St. Charles County, despite traffic remaining heavy.
Governor Mike Parson, in his State of the State speech three months ago, declared that “we can’t afford not to” invest in the I-70 expansion, but the legislature has yet to allocate any funds towards the project, even with the legislative session set to end in mid-May.
State Senator Bill Eigel is sponsoring a bill (SB 317) that proposes spending even more than Governor Parson’s proposed $859 million for the I-70 expansion. Eigel’s bill calls for the allocation of up to $1.5 billion annually from budget surpluses exceeding $4 billion a year over the next decade to the I-70 improvement fund. The allocated funds will cover the remaining two-lane stretches of I-70, which is roughly 190 miles long from Wentzville to Blue Springs, including the always congested I-64/Hwy. 40/I-70 interchange in St. Charles County.
Eigel describes the I-70 expansion as the “Wentzville strangler” and believes it to be the number one bottleneck in the state. He states that undertaking a significant renovation project of I-70 could alleviate the problem.
Despite the proposal, State Senator Bill Eigel has indicated that it could take up to eight years to complete the project, should it proceed.