The push continues to create some form of special funding body to raise $1 million locally to construct shoulders on Highway 15 in Scotland County.  

Interested parties seeking to improve Highway 15 in Scotland County gathered on February 15th at the board room at the Northeast Regional Planning Commission office to hear from a pair of entities that have successfully utilized state taxing measures to leverage local monies to receive matching funds from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to make local highway improvements.

County Commissioner Glenn Eagan from Shelby County and Kirksville City Manager Mari Macomber were present to discuss projects that helped make improvements to Highway 36 and Highway 63 in their regions.

Eagen discussed a successful Transportation Development District (TDD) effort that was approved by residents in Monroe, Shelby, Macon and Marion counties that implemented a local sales tax in those four counties, earmarked for improvements on Highway 36. The TDD was formed to levy a 1/2 cent sales tax for 15 years to help fund a proposed $86 million in improvements to the region’s main highway system.

“We actually completed the project two and a half years early and had an election to close the TDD and stop the sales tax before its target date,” Eagan told the meeting.

Macomber stated the Highway 63 projects involving Kirksville used a different program. Instead of forming a TDD, the City of Kirksville and various other interested parties formed a transportation corporation and voters in the city approved an economic development sales tax that was earmarked for the Highway 63 improvements and then again for the city’s bypass, and now is in its third term with the fund now earmarked for city street improvements.

MoDOT district engineer Paul Gough explained that Kirksville’s model is rather unique, with just a handful of transportation corporation’s in effect in Missouri. The TDD is much more popular. Gough said there are currently 230 active TDDs in the state.

With that number expected to continue to grow in light of the state’s dwindling transportation funding, the local parties interested in identifying ways to improve Highway 15, appeared ready to move forward with consideration to form a local TDD.

Dr. Jeff Davis, one of the founding members of the local coalition, indicated efforts will be made to secure cost estimates for legal work required to form a TDD, the initial step in what could be a ballot issue to ask local voters to approve a special sales tax for Highway 15 improvements.

Macomber noted that in Kirksville, the city advanced the money for the costs of the legal work and other initial expenditures, with those costs ultimately being reimbursed from the sales tax revenues.

Private contributions from businesses and residents who will see the benefits of the proposed addition of 6-foot shoulders on Highway 15 across Scotland County, ultimately may be asked to help financially support the creation of the TDD if alternate funding sources cannot be identified.

The coalition tentatively scheduled a follow up meeting for March 15th with hopes of having cost estimates for the creation of a TDD as well as legal options for funding sources.

The meetings are open to the public and all interested parties are encouraged to participate in the project. For more information contact Lucinda Chubb at NEMO RPC.