The Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides that MoDOT will receive approximately $637 million in ARRA transportation funding. The law mandates that 30 percent of the funds, or $191 million, be distributed to "metropolitan planning organizations" and that an additional 3 percent be set aside for "enhancements."
That leaves $427 million in ARRA transportation funding for use directly by MoDOT. Half of this funding must be obligated (i.e., ready to go to contract) in 120 days; the remaining half must be obligated in 1 year. ARRA requires "That in selecting projects to be carried out with funds apportioned under this heading, priority shall be given to projects that are projected for completion within a 3-year time frame, and are located in economically distressed areas as defined by section 301 of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, amended (42 U.B.C. 3161)".
I learned two important things today: that the local "metropolitan planning organization" had accepted $20 million worth of City projects from their portion of the ARRA funding, and that MoDOT had almost entirely ignored the City.
You can read East-West Gateway's plan here.
MoDOT's announced plan is to use approximately $160 million, or approximately 37 percent of MoDOT's $426 million, in the St. Louis region. Of that amount, MoDOT has budgeted $5 million for use in the City of St. Louis, for the repaving of Memorial Drive. However, MoDOT is also "taking back" $3.8 million MoDOT had originally budgeted for this purpose from non-ARRA funding. Thus, the net amount to be spent in the City from the $426 million is $1.2 million - less than 1 percent of the region's MoDOT funding, and approximately .3 percent of the state's funding.
This is grossly unfair to the City. And it is most likely illegal. Very little of MoDOT's plan to use the $160 million in ARRA funding is located in areas that meet the legal requirement for economic distress priority.
When I raised this issue with MoDOT, they said that they were unable to find enough "ready to go" projects in the City - but, they only looked along state-owned roads. In the list I had already sent them, I can identify at least $33 million of eligible projects ready to go right now, and another $50 million of eligible projects that would be ready to go in less than a year if MoDOT worked closely with us.
I have asked state officials and those advising them to review MoDOTs work.I strongly believe that they have made a mistake.