Interstate 70 is a major artery for the whole state of Missouri. Connecting St. Louis and Kansas City via I-70 needs to be a top priority for state officials going forward. Why? Because I-70, which was built over 50 years ago, needs an expansion. At least, that’s what Missouri lawmakers think.
Over the last two months, Missouri lawmakers have come up with a variety of plans to widen or otherwise expand I-70. Both Governor Mike Parson and Senator Bill Eigel are bringing their ideas to Jefferson City. These two lawmakers have plans that differ mainly in their scope and spending levels. As the Senate debates which plan to adopt, let’s take a look at the two plans.
The governor’s plan would widen certain stretches.
Governor Mike Parson pitched his I-70 expansion idea during his annual State of the State address in January. In the speech, Parson focused on widening the freeway in key places, namely the suburbs of St. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia. His plan would require the Senate to approve $859 million for these projects. This money would come out of the state’s massive budget surplus and would take advantage of what Parson called a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The senator’s plan calls for a more aggressive I-70 expansion.
Senator Bill Eigel, who many expect to run for governor when Parson vacates the position in 2024, wants more work on I-70. Outside of the portions of the highway that lie within the major cities, Eigel wants to expand the whole freeway. His plan would cost a lot more money, needing the state to infuse a fund for the cause with over a billion dollars each year. However, Eigel’s plan would definitely shore up more issues with the beleaguered highway in the long run. Whether or not that makes his plan inherently better is not clear.
Missourians are understandably quite tired of waiting for work on I-70. It’s one of the largest and most traffic-heavy thoroughfares in the state. Hopefully, whichever plan the Senate chooses to go with, they will start on it sooner rather than later.