MoDOT Places "Tip Jars" Along Highways

Fake News written by Martha Throebeck on Monday, October 21, 2002

from the it-works-for-museums dept.

While the state constitution doesn't allow the Missouri Department of Transportation to erect toll roads, that hasn't stopped MoDOT from creating "voluntary toll roads". Desperate for money, even loose change, the department has installed "tip jars" at strategic points along busy highways.

"We hope that when motorists drive on a well-designed highway, they will gladly contribute a gratuity to MoDOT so that we may continue our work," explained one MoDOT engineer. "Likewise, we have also established donation boxes at really old bridges and really crappy intersections which will hopefully inspire irritated drivers to give money to help fix these problems as soon as possible."

So far, trial runs of the program have been less than successful. MoDOT's long-standing policy of erecting signs along dangerous roads that say "How's my engineering? Call 1-800-IT-SUCKS" has generated far more interest. Nevertheless, a department spokesperson argued that any additional revenue is better than nothing.

MoDOT has also discussed selling "naming rights" for state highways. While the department has enacted a moratorium on naming highways after people for free, members of the Highway Commission see no problem with erecting large vanity signs and plaques -- if the price is right.

The Cape Rock has obtained a draft proposal of this plan that includes the prices that the department would seek in exchange for naming rights:

  • Stop sign... $50 ("This stop sign sponsored by...")
  • Culvert... $100 ("This culvert brought to you by...")
  • Keep right except to pass sign... $250 ("This safety message paid for by...")
  • Guardrail... $300 ("This safety device made possible with a grant from...")
  • School zone... $500 ("So-and-so Memorial School Zone")
  • Adopt-a-Highway sign... $750 ("This Adopt-a-Highway sign adopted by...")
  • County line marker... $1,000 ("This county boundary sign paid for by motorists like you...")
  • Railroad crossing... $2,500
  • Small bridge... $5,000
  • Offramp... $10,000
  • Interstate overpass... $20,000
  • Rest area... $75,000
  • Major river bridge... $100,000

It may be several years before MoDOT can start offering naming rights, however. The plan would require that voters approve an amendment to the Missouri Constitution Sponsored By Wal-Mart, which would require passage from the Verizon Wireless Missouri General Assembly. In the meantime, MoDOT will only be able to hope that the proceeds from tip jars and other fundraising activities will be enough to prevent major highways from turning into giant potholes.