(KMOV.com) - Missouri transportation officials are cautioning that the state could see a rise in traffic fatalities and bridge closures following the defeat of a proposed sales tax.
State transportation commissioners held a subdued meeting Wednesday, a day after voters rejected a three-quarters cent sales tax for transportation by 59 percent of the vote. The proposal would have raised at least $540 million annually for the next decade and funded over 800 transportation projects.
Without additional revenue, transportation commissioners say that by 2017 they won't have enough money to adequately maintain roads and bridges. Officials said the 80 projects that were scheduled for the St. Louis area will not begin until new funding can be found.
Commissioners fear traffic fatalities will go up if they can't improve rural two-lane roads that lack shoulders. They said the state could have to close some bridges if it lacks the money to repair them.
Some critics of the proposed Amendment said the sales tax would have been as high as 11 percent in some areas. Others have proposed the state raise the gas tax to help pay for new infrastructure projects. The gas tax has not been raised in almost 20 years, representatives with the City of St. Louis told News 4 voters have strongly opposed such a hike in the past.
"We'll have to have along term discussion and I don't know what the answer is to that," said Jeff Rainford, Mayor Slay's Chief of Staff, when asked about what's next. "At the moment, we're stuck. We all have be realistic, people don't want to raise the gas tax and they don't like tolls, and they don't like the sales tax. We're running out of alternatives.
Rainford said bridges and roads in poor condition will receive priority. He told News 4 he does not believe deteriorating bridges in the St. Louis area will have to close any time soon.