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Residents outraged over state's massive, controversial highway expansion: 'I just want the roads fixed'

"I think our highways are fine, can we get an Amtrak expansion!"

“I think our highways are fine, can we get an Amtrak expansion!”

Photo Credit: iStock

This past April, the Missouri House of Representatives passed Governor Mike Parson's $859 million plan to expand portions of Interstate 70 near Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis.

The project — which is competing against a $2.8 billion proposal from the Missouri Senate that would widen the entire I-70 — would add a lane in both directions along 53 miles of the highway, targeting the most heavily trafficked areas.

While Gov. Parson created the initiative to help alleviate congestion near three out of the four most populated cities in Missouri, research has shown that similar projects have done more bad than good in a variety of ways.

Widened highways are only a temporary solution for traffic, as the extra space typically draws more drivers over time, thus canceling out any of the initial benefits. Plus, incentivizing more vehicles on the road leads to more toxic pollution, which is harmful to humans and the planet, and typically requires the elimination of carbon-capturing plant life to accomplish. 

Even with evidence of highway-widening projects accomplishing the exact opposite of their intended goal, many governments, like in Stockholm, Sweden, and Austin, Texas, have continued to invest millions, if not billions, of dollars in additional lanes, even when there are far better options available. 

Though the House allocated part of the I-70 lane-widening budget to an environmental study and funding for a park, some policymakers believe that the money could be spent better elsewhere. 

"It's a real shame that … we didn't say as a House that we want to put a little bit more money into public transit for a change when we're willing to drop a billion dollars into I-70," State Representative Peter Merideth said on the floor. 

Redditors expressed a similar sentiment in the comment section of a post about the proposed project.

"I think our highways are fine, can we get an Amtrak expansion!" asked one user.

"I'd rather that money be spent on high-speed rail between KC and STL with a stop in Columbia," another chimed in.

"I just want the roads fixed," pleaded one commenter.

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