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(LISTEN): Columbia Democratic lawmakers join Missouri’s GOP governor on I-70 expansion bill

(LISTEN): Columbia Democratic lawmakers join Missouri’s GOP governor on I-70 expansion bill

State Rep. David Tyson Smith (D-Columbia) speaks on the Missouri House floor in Jefferson City on May 10, 2023 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Boone County’s bipartisan legislative delegation was unanimous in its support of a bill pushed by Missouri’s governor to six-lane I-70 across the state.

Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) voted for the bill, as did State Rep. Cheri  Toalson Reisch (R-Hallsville) and the delegation’s four House Democrats. State Reps. David Tyson Smith, Doug Mann and Kathy Steinhoff (all D-Columbia) joined GOP Governor Mike Parson at this week’s bill-signing ceremony in MACC’s parking lot.

Representative David Tyson Smith, whose district includes I-70, tells 939 the Eagle it’s all about infrastructure.

“I mean this is the main thing that we need to get done. I-70 is a mess, everyone in Columbia knows it, everyone around the state knows it. So to invest these types of dollars in getting this fixed is fantastic. I’m all about it, I’m going to do everything I can to keep supporting projects like this,” Representative Smith says.

State Rep. Doug Mann (D-Columbia) listens to a witness testify during a February 6, 2023 House committee hearing in Jefferson City (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The bipartisan bill provides $2.8 billion to rebuild and six-lane I-70 from St. Louis to Kansas City. The project will begin in Columbia.

Representative Mann tells 939 the Eagle that the bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support.

“If we want to move Missouri forward, bring in more business, bring in more people and move forward through the 21st century and then eventually into the 22nd century, that’s something that we have to start planning for, infrastructure is a good place to start. It’s something that helps everyone regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender,” says Mann.

Mann, who represents southern and southwest Columbia and parts of Boone County, says the bill will improve safety for motorists.

“I know whenever I’m traveling on I-70 and there’s two lanes, I’m sure everyone’s had that experience where you get trapped behind two semi trucks that happen to be going one mile an hour different than each other. So this will alleviate congestion, this will improve safety and it will allow, like the governor said, to attract more businesses,” Representative Mann says.

He emphasizes that there are numerous legislative issues that receive bipartisan support in Jefferson City that don’t receive a lot of news coverage.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson predicts the I-70 expansion bill will save lives. The governor joined us live on 939 the Eagle’s “Wake Up Mid-Missouri.”

“We want it to be safer out there because more and more people are using the roads. And we all see what the traffic’s like out there when you drive up and down there, the semis and the cars. And just to relieve that, make it safer, is going to help us all a little bit,” Parson tells listeners.

The governor held a ceremonial bill-signing ceremony in MACC’s Columbia parking lot this week. He shook hands with everyone in attendance, including dozens of MoDOT workers who wore their work vests.

Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield), who handled the bill in the Senate, also attended the ceremony. House Assistant Democratic Floor Leader Richard Brown (D-Kansas City) also attended.