On the heels of increased gas tax revenues and additional federal funding announced in 2015, the Missouri Department of Transportation is getting another shot in the project-funding arm – this time from $72.6 million in orphan earmarked funds.
Orphan earmarks are funds Congress set aside for specific projects more than 10 years ago. Of the total U.S. funds, less than 10 percent have been used, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Under the guidelines of Senate Bill 1544, legislation dubbed the Jurassic Pork Act co-sponsored by McCaskill, MoDOT is able to redirect the unspent portion of 49 orphan earmarks in the state to other critical projects.
“We’ve got billions of taxpayer dollars lying around unspent that could be put to good use addressing the critical priorities of our roads and bridges that sorely need it,” McCaskill said in the release. “By freeing up these unused earmarked funds, this common-sense, bipartisan legislation would help chip away at our infrastructure crisis, spur economic growth and job creation, all while safeguarding taxpayer money and ending what remains of the wasteful practice of earmarking.”
MoDOT’s Southwest District will receive about $21.6 million. The funds must be allocated within 50 miles of where the earmarked money would originally have been used.
Of the 10 projects listed in the release, Greene County would receive the smallest amount, $14,351, for bridge improvements to Highway 13 over Radio Lane, north of Springfield.
Other counties, the allotted amount and projects being funded in the MoDOT Southwest District include:
• Jasper County, $12.2 million for bridge improvements to Interstate 49 and Highway 96 and pavement improvements to Interstate 44 and Highway 43;
• Taney County, $5.3 million for bridge improvements to Highway 76 over Bull Shoals Lake;
• McDonald County, $2.5 million for pavement improvements to I-49 and repairs to erosion-retaining walls along Highway 59;
• Webster County, $801,180 for paving improvements to I-44; and
• Lawrence County, $800,000 for pavement improvements to Highway 39.
The announcement of the released funds comes a month after the Ozarks Transportation Organization, a federally designated metropolitan planning organization, approved Transportation Plan 2040 – which outlines transportation infrastructure improvements for the area over the next 24 years. The $2.7 billion budget has a projected shortfall of $1.13 billion, according to OTO officials.
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