The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission decided last week to get a jump start on 58 road-building projects totaling $248.5 million.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the first group of bond-financed projects approved by the commission at a meeting in Jefferson City was split almost evenly between urban and rural regions in the state.
The bonds will be issued for the 2001 state fiscal year, which began last weekend. The St. Louis district will get $83.1 million from the bonds, an amount expected to cover 14 projects. Under a highway bond plan passed by the Legislature this year, the agency can issue bonds for an additional $2 billion through 2006, reports the Post-Dispatch.
Transportation experts and lawmakers say borrowing so heavily in the next few years will increase the pressure to find new sources of highway money in the near future, considering the heavy debt will eat into state transportation spending and restrict funding without a future tax increase.
Highway Commission members said that the accelerated projects represent only a fraction of what needs to be done throughout the state, but would show the public that work is under way.