Economic Development News
Transportation improvements essential to economic development
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
By: Randy Allen, President/CEO
Continued economic growth and commerce is dependent on continuous improvement to our transportation systems. Rivers, railroads, airports and highways are all infrastructures essential to moving people and products. We at the Chamber have argued and advocated for Interstate access to our county. We believe this is still a long-term strategy we cannot give up on. Aside from that goal, local leaders have continued to advocate for regional improvements to upgrade access to, in, and around Jefferson City.
Over the last couple of decades the projects listed below are a result of use of City, County, State and Federal Funding to provide substantial improvement to this access.
· New Rt. 179 Extension from Highway 50 to Route B
· New Rt. 179 Interchange at Missouri Blvd
· New Rt. 179 Interchange at Mission Drive
· New Highway 50 from St. Martins to California
· New Highway 50 from Osage River to Linn
· New Highway 50 Interchange - McCarty Street
· New Highway 50 Interchange – Lafayette Street
· New Highway 63 Interchange at Regional Airport
· New Seven Hills Road - Green Berry to Highway 50
· West Main Street Improvements - Capitol to Highway 54
· East McCarty Street Improvements
· New Dix Road to Southwest Blvd Connector
· New Edgewood Drive - Stadium to Fairgrounds
· New Wildwood Drive - Missouri Blvd to Edgewood Drive
· New South Country Club Drive - Edgewood to Scruggs Station
· New Hyde Park Drive - Stadium to Mo. Blvd.
· New Christy Drive Extension to Route B
· Capitol Avenue Improvements - Lafayette to Chestnut
· Lafayette Street Improvements - McCarty to Federal Court House.
This is an impressive list! Growth in a community requires upgrades and improvements to highways and roads to sustain a growing economy. The citizens of Jefferson City and Cole County have voted 5 times over the last 25 years to allocate millions of dollars to provide funds for many of these upgrades and improvements to road infrastructure. State and Federal Highway funds have had a huge impact. Without these resources the list of completed or planned projects would not have been possible.
Future funding at all levels is absolutely essential. As we look forward, the funding from the State and Federal Governments is uncertain but there is no doubt that has to change. Taxpayer and congressional support for future funding for these improvements will be needed. The city and county need to continue to wisely allocate funds from the sales tax for future needs - not just today’s needs. State and federal funding for transportation needs is tenuous right now. Key leaders in Missouri are discussing the State funding issue as we speak. We cannot let many more years of minimal State funding pass us. The Blue Ribbon Citizen’s Committee on Missouri Transportation Needs issued its final report last week. The report does a great job of identifying the urgency of additional resource needs.
The report states “Missouri needs to invest an additional $600 million to $1 billion annually in transportation in order to address Missouri’s critical transportation needs”. We totally agree!
In addition the report outlines all options for funding. This will be the difficult discussion but one that we must have as a State. A funding plan must be put on the ballot as soon as possible. We cannot afford delay! We encourage you to view the entire Report at http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/info/BRC_Report.pdf (The link is also available from our home page.)
So what must we do here in Jefferson City and Cole County?
· First we must continue to support City and County funding for major upgrades to road infrastructure through 5-year Capital Improvement Sales Taxes.
· Next we must encourage Congress through our local Senators and Representatives to re-authorize a highway funding plan that includes adequate resources for needed improvement projects.
· Finally and most urgently we must assist Ssate leaders who are looking for ways to recharge major highway improvements statewide through additional funding options. We must assist and support our own Senator Mike Kehoe as he provides leadership on finalizing a funding and improvement plan and place it before the voters.