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Letter to the Editor: Prop D protects natural economic asset

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Dear editor,

The business case to support Proposition D is strong. Missouri’s central location can only fuel economic growth if our transportation infrastructure supports it. We are in danger of losing our natural competitive advantage if we do not invest in our roads, highways and bridges now.

The need is established. We have hundreds of bridges in poor condition. A recent study by national transportation research group Trip found more than half of Missouri’s major roads are either in poor or mediocre condition. In Springfield, 21 percent of major roads are in poor condition and another 22 percent are considered mediocre.

We also know our current funding stream is not sufficient to meet maintenance demands. Missouri’s motor fuel tax ranks 49th in the nation at 17 cents per gallon. Adjusted for inflation, that original 17 cents is worth about 7 cents today. And yet, that funding must support the nation’s seventh largest highway system.

Proposition D is a reasonable, accountable approach to help us meet the demand on our roads and bridges, as well as increasing and dedicating funding for state law enforcement. The funds from Proposition D will be regularly audited and constitutionally designated, so they can’t be used for other purposes.

The phased-in approach is responsible – with the fuel tax increasing 2.5 cents per year over four years. At the full 10 cents, that adds up to a little over $5 a month for an average driver. That’s about what many of us regularly spend on a fancy cup of coffee.

The proposal is specific, and the annual funds coming directly to the area are projected to be $2.5 million for Springfield and $1.9 million for Greene County, once fully implemented.

I currently serve as the chairman of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Along with many other business and professional organizations, labor unions, city and county leaders, and safety groups, the chamber board has endorsed Proposition D. We’ve seen the return on investment in transportation infrastructure proven many times over. This kind of investment supports development opportunities that spur economic growth and job creation, increases productivity and supply chain efficiency, and enhances job and labor market accessibility.

I’ve heard Gov. Mike Parson say we can’t kick this can down the road any more. It’s time to invest in our safety and protect one of our most significant natural assets by properly maintaining our transportation infrastructure. I hope you’ll join me in voting yes on Proposition D.

—Doug Neff of Commerce Bank and chairman of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

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