MEXICO—There has been some transportation impact because of decreased passenger and commercial traffic, said Paula Gough, MoDOT Northeast district engineer, during the Highway 54 Coalition meeting last week.

“We’re just starting to see the impact of that,” she said, because of the lag time from when Gov. Mike Parson issued a stay-at-home order and ordered non-essential businesses to shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

People not buying fuel or vehicles have had a significant impact on state revenues, she added.

“We are currently estimating a 30 percent decline in state transportation revenue in the coming 18 months,” she said. “That is a real concern,” Gough added. Because of that MoDOT has been adjusting its essential spending.

“We’re just focusing on those things we absolutely have to do,” she said. No current contracts have been canceled. Roadway contract are continuing, as well as work from the department’s maintenance staff. Essential and critical repairs continue, as does highway mowing.

The House Transportation Committee was marking up its transportation bill last week. A lot of the emphasis in this bill, said a spokesperson, is on environmental impacts of bridges and roadways. Money from a fourth stimulus package should be coming in late July. This money would be used to tweak current projects, not initiate new ones.

Samantha Diffenderfer with the Council of Governments said that group had met the day before and decided that because of the revenue situation everyone was facing, it would adopt the same prioritization list as last year.

She said she didn’t think there would be changes in their list or in MoDOT’s list.

“What the TAG is going to look at is the list from MoDOT, and then focus on next year,” she added.

Pike County Commissioner Chris Gamm said he had been talking with local farmers about the proposed four-lane shared highway through the county.

“People that live along the highway wanted to know how many acres they’re going to have to give up, and if they were going to be paid for them,” Gamm said.

According to the coalition, the four-lane highway is designed to take the absolute least amount of right away necessary, and those along the right away will be paid for their lost acreage.

The next coalition meeting will take place Thursday, July 16 in Vandalia.

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