Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon endorses gas tax hike to pay for road wo - KCTV5 News

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon endorses gas tax hike to pay for road work

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Standing underneath an aging and rusting Missouri River bridge, Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday his support for a gas tax hike to pay for road improvements.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has closed two area highway bridges in recent days due to problems.

Coincidentally or not, the Missouri General Assembly is looking at raising the state's diesel tax fuel by 3.5 cents and all other fuel by 1.5 cents. The Senate voted last week 18 to 13 to approve the tax hike, which would raise an estimated $78 million annually.

The Senate still must approve the measure a second time before it can move to the Missouri House. If approved, the tax hike would take effect in January.

Wednesday afternoon, MODOT closed the northbound U.S. 291 bridge over the Missouri River. All traffic is now on the southbound bridge. 

The same bridge was closed for months in 2009 due to emergency repairs. Last month, the state closed an Interstate 70 ramp to I-35 downtown in order to make emergency repairs.

MODOT officials are warning that without extra funds they are facing dire problems in maintaining the state's infrastructure.

Nixon said only five states have more miles of roads than Missouri, but the state has the fifth lowest revenue source to take care of the infrastructure.

"This incremental step of just a penny and a half on the gas tax will give us the down payment on the future and send a clear signal that in the heartland we're going to take care of (our roads)," Nixon said. "This bridge was built in 1949. We've got to take care of what we have."

Last year, Missouri voters rejected a proposed three-quarter cent sales tax to fund transportation work.

What do you think Missouri lawmakers should do? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page. Click here.

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