Higher price at the pump one step closer following Missouri Senate vote

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- People are one step closer to paying more at the pump after the Missouri Senate voted to pass a proposed gas tax hike Tuesday night.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said hundreds of bridges across the state are in critical condition and it takes money to fix them; money the state said it doesn't have. After Tuesday's vote, it seems the Senate agrees.

The Senate passed a bill Tuesday night that would raise the tax on motor fuel from 17 cents to 22.9 cents per gallon. In other words, about $1 for a 20-gallon tank of gas.

More than 34,000 miles of highway and more than 10,000 bridges stretch across Missouri and MoDOT said the money to maintain is just not there.

Brian Kidwell is an Assistant District Engineer with MoDOT. He said, "It's been a real treading water, uphill battle kind of thing for MODOT." It's why the department supports the Senate bill and hopes it passes the House and makes it to the ballot for voters this fall. Kidwell said, "We're fighting with every penny we have. 5.9 cents would help."

Last year's emergency closure of the 291 Bridge over the Missouri River brought in the state's leader. Governor Jay Nixon said, "Many of our most important roadways are in significant need of repair. That means more traffic, less safety, fewer jobs."

MoDOT said in recent years, it's cut 1,200 jobs, closed 3 of the state's 10 districts, and sold 700 pieces of equipment in an effort to find money with taxing people more. Drivers like Edwin Warren said MODOT needs to keep planning and working toward that goal.

FOX 4 asked Warren if he can afford an extra six cents a gallon. He said, "Not really, not really. Not when you have to pay lights and gas and water."

Warren drives the very roads the state said is in trouble, but he hopes funds will come from somewhere other than his wallet. Warren said, "Every penny counts. Especially when you've got to take care of kids and family."

Missouri is the the nation's seventh-largest infrastructure system, but only three other states have lower road budgets than this state's.