MRT Calls for I-70 Safety Commitments

By Missourians for Responsible Transportation

October 24, 2023

MRT submitted official comments to MoDOT about the ‘Improve I-70’ project. With billions of dollars in funding for the project, MRT believes there are opportunities for multimodal improvements between Missouri’s largest population centers, and for the rural communities in between them.

Beginning on August 28th, 2o23, MoDOT hosted public meetings to gather feedback on proposed lane-widening along the I-70 corridor. They also requested public comments, due September 22nd, 2023. This is our opportunity to speak up for improvements that make it safer and easier to walk, roll, bike, and use public transit across and along the corridor. Use this link to learn more and register for updates to stay informed.

Below are the public comments MRT submitted to MoDOT for the 'Improve I-70' project:

Here's what we initially heard back from MoDOT 'Improve I-70' Program Director Erik Kopinksi:

"I appreciate the detailed feedback provided to the MoDOT team! The feedback outside of Improve I-70, with respect to the statewide active transportation plan, have been forwarded to MoDOT’s leadership for consideration. As MoDOT moves forward with the Improve I-70 projects we plan to work closely with the public and industry partners to ensure this historic investment provides tremendous value to the State of Missouri. We know there are many needs along this corridor and our team is taking a close look at every section based on the current schedule.

For the first project on I-70 from Columbia to Kingdom City our team has met a handful of time with the City of Columbia, Boone County, and two of the local bike/pedestrian advocacy groups. We have listened to their questions and concerns as we structured our design-build contract documents. Additionally, we have also met with a handful of local businesses within the project limits. Our team is committed to following this same model for the future projects as they get closer on the schedule."

How did we get here?

In the 2023 legislative session, lawmakers approved a budget that included $2.8 billion to widen portions of the I-70 corridor. The funding for the expansion was adopted despite concerns from Missouri residents and business leaders along the corridor that expanding the highway alone won’t address congestion, but will instead increase transportation-related emissions for the state as a whole and communities near the highway in particular.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has been working over the past year to determine next steps for I-70, one of the main transportation corridors for the Show-Me State. You can learn more about the project by clicking here.

While the highway expansion focuses on driving alone, there are implications for walking, biking, accessibility, transit, and even land use. This includes:

  • Potential for separated and reliable paths on bridges and key crossings for pedestrians and people with disabilities
  • Continuation and connectivity of trail and mobility networks across and along the highway corridor
  • Ease of access for bus and rail transit
  • Preserving land of individual property owners and existing housing stock

Ultimately, the expansion of I-70 should be understood as an opportunity to build Missouri’s transportation system in a way that allows for the freedom of movement for everyone, regardless of their preferred mode. You can advocate for prioritizing safe connections at MoDOT’s upcoming public meetings and other engagements.

How can I get involved?

There are several ways for the public to engage MoDOT about considering multimodal elements along the I-70 corridor:

  1. Attend one of the upcoming public meetings: There will be several public meetings where you can learn more and provide feedback to MoDOT. Click here to see the full schedule of meetings.
  2. Provide public comment (ended September 22nd, 2023--stay tuned for future comment periods): MoDOT will have a public comment period open from August 28 to September 22. Public comments are another chance to share your thoughts with MoDOT about I-70 and the need to prioritize multimodal improvements.
  3. Sign up for more information: MoDOT has also set up a form where folks can sign up to receive email updates about the project and additional information on public engagement opportunities. Click here to sign up.

While big portions of the 'Improve I-70' project appear to be moving forward, there is still opportunity for MoDOT to prioritize making changes in a way that incorporates upgrades for walking, biking, accessibility, and transit.
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