AASHTO Journal, 26 February 2016
The Missouri Department of Transportation has unveiled an online calculator to show residents how much they are paying in motor fuel tax and vehicle license fees, and how much of the money goes into transportation infrastructure.
The agency is introducing the tool as state lawmakers explore possible ways to increase funding for the department to invest in the state’s ailing road and bridge network. Department officials have warned for years that the current funding stream is not keeping pace with the investment need.
The “Transportation Dollar$” calculator, MoDOT said, is “an easy-to-use online application” that allows users to to enter their annual motor vehicle mileage and miles per gallon to show how much they are now paying and what a fuel tax increase would really mean to their bottom line.
“I think people will be surprised at how little they’re currently investing in the transportation system,” said MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna. “For most drivers, a fuel tax increase would only cost a few dollars a year.”
He added: “There’s a lot of discussion in the Missouri General Assembly about ways to secure a stable revenue stream for Missouri’s transportation system. The online calculator shows how little a fuel tax increase would impact your personal finances. It’s less than a dollar a month for most Missouri drivers.”
For instance, the online tool shows that a driver of a 20 mpg vehicle who travels 12,000 miles a year in Missouri would pay $214.20 in federal and state fuel taxes, plus another $44 in vehicle and license fees.
That user’s fuel tax payment breaks down into $110.40 in federal excise tax and $103.80 in the state’s per gallon levy. But the tool shows that a total of just $167.36 in fuel taxes would go to transportation.
The tool also notes that “the Missouri Legislature is reviewing a fuel tax increase of 1.5-cent per-gallon for gas and 3.5 cents-per-gallon for diesel. Missouri’s gas tax is the 46th lowest in the nation and its diesel tax is 47th lowest.”
It includes a feature allowing users to calculate how much money they would pay out of pocket if the state fuel tax rises. The hypothetical 12,000-mile user would pay an extra 70 cents a month if lawmakers increase the per gallon fee by 1.5 cents, or $9 more for a year.
“It’s not that much per driver, but it could generate millions for Missouri’s transportation system,” McKenna said.
Visitors to that website can also find more information on the cost of maintaining Missouri’s roads and bridges.
The calculator page links to estimates of what it would cost to resurface one mile of two-lane road and the cost of building or rebuilding the same length of road. The page also projects costs to improve the system, including estimating how much it would cost to rebuild Interstate 70 and to make headway on reducing the number of Missouri’s 641 critical-condition bridges.