The defeat of Missouri’s transportation tax

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri voters have rejected a sales tax increase that would have provided more than $5 billion for road and bridge repairs. As a result, the Missouri Department of Transportation says some big projects in the Kansas City area are on hold.

A major project underway at I-70 and Manchester will be completed to replace the bridge there. Replacing the Manchester bridge here is not expected to be finished until the end of next year. But it is an example of the type of big improvements MoDOT may no longer take on, because of the sales tax defeat.

Missouri lawmakers may have to determine how best to pay improving the state's transportation network.

The three-quarters of a cent sales tax hike would have funded a plan to rebuild Interstate 70, relieving some congestion in the Kansas City area. A MoDOT engineer tells FOX 4 News that, along with a plan to replace the Broadway Bridge and upgrade I-435 east of Three Trails Crossing now may all have to wait.

"We're going to continue to plow snow and mow grass and patch potholes and do the basic necessities of MoDOT," said Brian Kidwell, MoDOT assistant district engineer. "But a new job like Manchester is going to be, it's not in the foreseeable future."

The sales tax hike would have remained in place for 10 years in exchange for a freeze on state gasoline taxes and a ban on new toll roads. Those options now may be back on the table.

Opponents objected to paying for roads and bridges with a regressive tax that hits poor people the hardest. They argued that those that use the transportation network should pay for it through fuel and vehicle taxes. Missouri has one of the lowest gasoline taxes in the nation.