© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Missouri could begin construction to expand I-70 as soon as next month, MoDOT says

Construction crews work on a ramp off I-70 in St. Louis.
Missouri Department of Transportation
Construction crews work on a ramp off I-70 in St. Louis.

The drafted timeline for I-70 construction would start in August, on the stretch of highway between Columbia and Kingdom City moving east-bound, and complete in 2030. Missouri's latest budget allocated $2.8 billion to the project, the largest on the interstate since it opened.

The Missouri Department of Transportation revealed a tentative plan for the expansion and improvement of Interstate 70 at an industry meeting Monday morning. The construction could begin as soon as August and is projected to finish in fall of 2030.

MoDOT’s meeting follows the signing of the 2024 fiscal year budget that allocated $2.8 billion to the project, known as Improve I-70. This is the largest project on the interstate since its original construction in the 1960s.

“This is a generational opportunity for us,” MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said during the meeting.

Half of the funds come from the general revenue allocated funds for the I-70 project through the Office of Administration. The other $1.4 billion will be funded with state road bond proceeds, with a maximum of $136 million of debt service per year.

“The cash flow is not a concern,” said Eric Kopinski, the program director of Improve I-70, during the meeting. “This gives us a lot of ability to be flexible.”

The drafted timeline of the program would begin on the stretch of highway between Columbia and Kingdom City moving east-bound in August. This timeline would give contractors, suppliers, consultants and other parties less than a month to make plans to work on the project.

The overall goal is to build a third lane in both directions from Wentzville to Blue Springs. Other priorities include improving traffic flow, increasing the efficiency of freights, improving pavement, minimizing construction impacts and increasing employment opportunities.

While the proposed project timeline was described by both Kopinski and McKenna as “aggressive,” MoDOT emphasized that maintaining the highway throughout the construction is a priority.

“We’re going to be doing open heart surgery on I-70, and we don’t want to kill the patient,” Kopinski said.

Both directors noted that the hard push to begin the project aims to address demand for a better quality interstate.

“Taxpayers don’t care how long it takes,” McKenna said. “They just want it done.”

Monday’s meeting revealed the tentative plans for the program to contractors, consultants, suppliers and other groups and addressed their questions. The plans announced in the meeting are not definitive and could change after feedback from the audience rolls in.

This story was originally published by the Missouri Business Alert, a fellow member of the KC Media Collective.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.