Early polling shows tolls on I-70 unpopular

By Kansas City Business Journal

Missouri voters won't support turning Interstate 70 into a toll road, according to a recent public opinion poll.

The poll, conducted by Kansas City-based Remington Research Group between Dec. 11 and Dec. 13, indicated that 59 percent of likely Missouri voters would oppose making the 200 or so miles of interstate between Kansas City and St. Louis a toll road.

The poll asked whether respondents support or oppose I-70 becoming a toll road. The results: 59 percent oppose the idea, 30 percent support it, and 11 percent have no opinion on the matter. In Kansas City, about 32 percent of those polled supported the idea. In St. Louis, only 27 percent support it.

Titus Bond, director of Remington Research Group, said the polling results are consistent with historic public sentiment toward toll roads.

"If it was ever put to a vote of the public in Missouri, it'd be overwhelmingly turned down," Bond said.

On Dec. 9, Gov. Jay Nixon asked the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to draft a report exploring the possibility of establishing a toll road to pay for necessary improvements. A Missouri Department of Transportation report on the topic said repairs would cost $2 billion to $4 billion.

Bond said the unpopularity of the concept will keep high-profile politicians away from the toll road discussion. He said he'd be curious to see whether any of the state's congressional delegation weigh in on the idea.

The commission is due to present that report to Nixon by the end of the year. In August, Missouri's voters rejected a three-fourths-cent sales tax that would have gone toward funding the state's transportation infrastructure.