Transportation leaders warn that federal funding for projects could soon run out

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PLEASANT VALLEY, Mo. -- Work started earlier this month on a nearly $41.5-million project to improve connections around Interstate 35 in the Northland.

Both state and federal transportation leaders say the project may be the last large construction project the metro area sees for some time because federal funding for transportation improvements runs out next month, with no new money in place.

In Missouri, for the first time the state may not have enough money to match federal grants for big projects.

Lawmakers have rejected the idea of having toll roads in the Missouri and a two-cents per gallon increase in the gasoline tax has been met with resistance in Jefferson City.

"The general public understands the relationship between government's role and maintaining and investing in transportation infrastructure," said Greg Nadeau, deputy federal highway administrator. "They also understand the money has to come from somewhere, but raising revenue is always a difficult thing to do for any legislative body."

Without more state money, the Missouri Department of Transportation says it won't be able to match federal transportation grants in 2017, and though Missourians pay federal taxes, that money will probably go to other states that can provide matches for large projects.

Neadeau says the U.S. population is expected to grow by 70 million people in the next 30 years. The growth combined with more freight movement is putting more stress on an infrastructure system that needs to expand.