The state DOT is asking lawmakers to approve a proposal authorizing the agency to develop toll roads and submit it to voters. Several state lawmakers, including the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, support putting tolls on existing highways and bridges, including Interstate 70. Sen. Danny Staples already has proposed to impose tolls on Mississippi River bridges around St. Louis in order to fund a proposed new bridge.
Currently, 25 states have toll roads. Four of them - Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois and Kentucky - border Missouri. For instance, the Kansas Turnpike raised $63 million last year, half of which was from vehicles from outside the state.
The Transportation Department says it currently has no specific projects in mind, but would like to have the option of tolls. Henry Hungerbeeler, director of transportation, told a legislative committee that his agency could build, maintain and operate some highways and bridges faster using tolls. He said 45 states provided more money per mile for highways than Missouri.
Legislators also say tolls could pave the way for higher speed limits on new or improved highways.