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      MODOT faces dwindling funds

      The future of Missouri roads is littered with question marks. The state has enjoyed several good years, thanks to state Amendment 3 dollars. But that funding to jump start highway construction is about to run out.

      For this KHQA FactFinder report, KHQA's Melissa Shriver got the facts about MO-DOT's preparations for the tight times ahead.

      Here's the good news. A national transportation research group reports since Missouri voters passed Amendment 3 back in 2004, Missouri roads have improved from third *worst* in the country to ninth best in 2007.

      Amendment 3 required motor vehicle sales tax revenue to go toward Missouri road construction. The state took out bonds on those funds in the beginning to build huge projects faster which, in turn, would bring in more economic development.

      That plan gave Tri-State projects like the Avenue of the Saints and Highway 36 a boost. But Amendment 3 revenue is expected to run out by the end of 2009.

      At the same time, transportation revenue from the state is on the way down.

      You can blame *that* on gas prices we saw earlier this year and on the recession. In Missouri, state transportation dollars come from here at the gas pump. Since the high gas prices this summer, folks have curtailed their travels.

      MODOT District Engineer Paula Gough said, "When people drive less, they use less gas, which means less gas tax coming to us."

      And if you thought the state was coming out on top from the high gas prices think again. *Unlike* Illinois which taxes a percentage of the price of each gallon, Missouri only gets 17 cents on every gallon, no matter how high or low the prices. In fact, it's one of the lowest taxes in the country|.not rising in more than 12 years.

      With transportation resources on the decline, MODOT, like everyone else has been tightening its belt|preparing for the time when maintenance of existing roads will be the name of the game.