The Senate bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, authorizes the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to form a partnership with a private company. The company would provide funds for the upkeep of the highway and, in return, would be allowed to establish a tollway on I-70 between Wentzville and Blue Springs for reimbursement.
Kehoe, a former member of the commission, said he was unsure whether a toll road was the best option for creating funds, but that the proposal was a way to begin the discussion of potential options.
"Projects like this are going to have to become part of Missouri's transportation conversation," Kehoe said. "Whether this is the solution or we come up with another solution. Something has to be done."
Debate over imposing a toll on I-70 began before the current legislative session. The federal government has granted Missouri's Department of Transportation permission to implement the toll along the interstate. Members of Missouri's House, however, introduced bills last week that would ban MoDOT from establishing a toll.
While the House legislation does not prohibit MoDOT from building a tollway on the interstate, the department could enter into a public-private partnership, where a private company would pay the department for repair and improvements to the road's infrastructure. The department would then pay back the funds based on an agreement between both entities.
The Senate's bill has yet to be assigned to a committee.