Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Five Finalists Selected in Name the Train Contest

JEFFERSON CITY and ST. LOUIS - One of five finalist names will soon provide the moniker for Amtrak®'s passenger rail service between St. Louis and Kansas City. Those names are Missouri Rail Blazer, Missouri River Runner, River Cities Corridor, ShowMeMO and Truman Service. Online voting begins today and goes through Jan. 23, 2009.

Contest judges selected five finalist names from a pool of more than 8,300 name submissions. In cases where duplicate names were submitted, a random drawing was held to choose a finalist. The finalists are:

· Missouri Rail Blazer - Betty Crancer of Sunset Hills
· Missouri River Runner - Keith Kohler of Glendale
· River Cities Corridor - Richard A. Chenault of Webster Groves
· ShowMeMO - Kerry Simmons of Independence
· Truman Service - John Fernandez of St. Louis

Each of these individuals will receive two round-trip coach tickets to any Amtrak destination in Missouri and a gift basket from one of five participating cities located on the passenger rail line.

The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, the Washington Chamber of Commerce, the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association are providing the gift baskets.

You can cast your vote online at http://www.morail.org/ or mail your favorite finalist name, along with your name and address to MoDOT, Name the Train Contest, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO 65102. Only one vote per person will be accepted. To be counted, a vote must be received online or in the mail by 4 p.m. Jan. 23. The new name will be announced by Jan. 30, 2009.

"I am amazed and owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the people of Missouri and others all over the country who submitted names for the contest," said Rod Massman, MoDOT's administrator of railroads. "The sheer amount of name submissions went far beyond our expectations. Furthermore, the breadth of names related to Missouri - from Lewis and Clark to Harry Truman to Laura Ingalls Wilder and beyond - showed a great amount of interest in the train service and its future."

The Missouri Department of Transportation and Amtrak are sponsoring the "Name the Train" contest in celebration of 30 years of state-supported passenger rail across Missouri, as well as major service improvements in the works.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Drop in Highway Deaths Makes MoDOT’s Year

JEFFERSON CITY – Looking back on 2008, Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn said none of the agency’s accomplishments tops the drop in highway deaths the state has experienced.

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety announced in January that Missouri had reached its goal of 1,000 or fewer deaths one year early. Not since 1993 has the state had fewer than 1,000 fatalities.

“Over the last two years, Missouri has seen a 21 percent decrease in traffic deaths – the second-largest decrease in the nation,” Rahn said. “That means more people are arriving alive and are here to ring in the new year with family and friends.”

MoDOT has worked to provide smoother pavement on the busiest highways, improve striping and signs, install rumble stripes, replace and reposition warning signs on many two-lane roads and install median guard cable on the interstates. That work, along with law enforcement efforts by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and other safety partners and educational activities including Battle of the Belt competitions among high schools and work zone awareness campaigns, helped make Missouri roads safer.

Here are the rest of MoDOT’s top 10 accomplishments for 2008:

2. I-64 closing - Although St. Louisans braced themselves for the worst, the closing of a five-mile stretch of Interstate 64 in the heart of St. Louis went off with few problems. In addition, this portion of the largest construction project in MoDOT history was completed this month two weeks ahead of schedule. When the entire project is finished in 2010, St. Louis will enjoy 10 miles of new, smooth pavement; 30 safer bridges; and a new, safer high-speed interchange at Interstate 170.

3. Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program - In September, MoDOT launched the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program, which will improve 802 of Missouri's worst bridges in five years.

4. State highway conditions improve - In 2008, 78 percent of the state’s major roads were in good condition compared to 44 percent in 2003. The Reason Foundation ranked Missouri 13th in the nation for state highway system performance. The Pew Center on the States gave Missouri a B+ for infrastructure performance, which beat all but four other states and the 50-state average grade of a B-.

5. More funding for other travel modes - Missouri legislators increased funding for Missouri’s passenger rail, aviation, port and transit travel by a whopping 74 percent in the last legislative session.

6. Emergency response - In April, the Missouri House of Representatives honored MoDOT maintenance crews with a resolution thanking them for keeping Missouri highways clear and safe in the face of record snow, ice, flooding, earthquakes and even frogs.

7. Saving money - By pinching pennies, estimating construction work to the dime and encouraging innovation, MoDOT saved nearly $50 million in 2008 that was used to tackle 36 new highway projects.

8. kcICON - MoDOT broke ground in April on kcICON, a major design-build project that will improve four miles of interstate highway north of downtown Kansas City and build a new landmark, cable-stay Missouri River bridge.

9. Mississippi River Bridge - In February, the governors of Missouri and Illinois announced the two states had reached an agreement on building a new Mississippi River Bridge in St. Louis.

10. Last State of Transportation Address - MoDOT Director Pete Rahn delivered the fifth and final State of Transportation Address to Missouri legislators on Feb. 6. The law authorizing the annual speech contained a five-year sunset clause, which legislators did not extend. “I believe the elimination of this speech sends a clear signal that MoDOT has regained its footing and your trust,” Rahn told legislators. “Five years ago we faced uncertainty, but today there is no doubt - we've come a long way in a short time.”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rahn Invited to be National Journal Contributor

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn has joined an impressive list of transportation experts invited by National Journal to participate in a weekly blog on transportation issues. The blog is located at http://transportation.nationaljournal.com/.
National Journal is a Washington, D.C.-based, nonpartisan weekly magazine on public policy and politics. In his first posting, Rahn gave his opinion on how federal economic stimulus funding should be spent on transportation infrastructure.

"Congress and the Obama administration should commit at least $50 billion of a stimulus package to highway and bridge improvements - $25 billion a year for two years," Rahn wrote. "The first-year funds should be redistributed if not under contract within 180 days. The second-year funds should be directed to projects of more substance, but those projects should also be under contract by the end of fiscal year 2009. An additional $20 billion should be committed to multimodal transportation."

National Journal launched the transportation blog Dec. 1 citing the increasing importance of transportation on the Washington agenda. The magazine also offers expert blogs on health care, the economy, and energy and the environment. They can be found at http://www.nationaljournal.com/expertblogs.

Others participating in the transportation blog include California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Transportation, Secretary Mary Peters, former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, former Department of Transportation Inspector General Kenneth Mead, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Teamsters President James Hoffa and American Transportation and Road Builders Association President Pete Ruane.

"This is a great opportunity to provide state input into national issues affecting transportation," Rahn said. "I'm honored to be asked to contribute."

Friday, December 5, 2008

MoDOT Ready to Go with Economic Stimulus Projects

Would Create 14,000 Jobs and Return $2.4 Billion to the State's Economy

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Transportation is ready to go with 34 transportation projects that could be awarded within 180 days of passage of an economic stimulus package that contains at least $25 billion for transportation infrastructure investments nationwide. The projects, which would total about $510 million, would create about 14,000 jobs and have a $2.4 billion impact on the state's economy. Given additional funding beyond $510 million, significant portions of four additional highway projects totaling roughly $290 million could be under way in 2009.

MoDOT outlined the road, bridge, air, rail, transit, waterway and pedestrian projects it could readily accomplish at a meeting today of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

"We stand ready to quickly deliver 34 transportation improvements that would mean jobs, increased safety and a better quality of life for Missourians," MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said. "These are much-needed projects that will benefit Missouri citizens, and we urge Congress to act positively on an economic stimulus package that includes a minimum of $25 billion for transportation infrastructure projects."

Rahn said federal funding for infrastructure projects would have a vital ripple effect. It would create jobs for road builders and designers and demand for related supplies and services, as well as further economic development around the improvements.

"The job creation will go beyond just those building the projects," Rahn said. "Suppliers, retailers, restaurants, hotels and other businesses will benefit."

MoDOT would be ready to go with about $137 million of work on Interstates 70, 44, 55, 35 and 29. Approximately $60 million would go toward fixing the state's lettered routes in rural Missouri. The rest would be used on a variety of transportation projects throughout the state. A complete list of the proposed projects can be found at http://www.modot.org/.

"Under our proposed plan, all forms of travel would benefit, not just highways, and projects would be spread throughout the state to ensure all regions reap some of the economic gain," Rahn said.

Seventeen of the proposed projects are already included in the state's five-year construction program, but would be sped up, some by up to four years. Projects would then be added to the statewide construction program to replace those that were accelerated. Seventeen are new projects that have been identified as regional priorities and on which environmental work and preliminary design are already under way.

Rahn said Congress should not be concerned road and bridge improvements couldn't be put into place fast enough to provide the desired economic relief.

"We know we can award $510 million worth of work or more within 180 days of the stimulus bill's passage, with a considerable amount in less time," Rahn said. "Investing in our infrastructure is the best course of action Congress could take. Not only would it provide an immediate economic shot in the arm, but it would yield the long-term benefits of safer highways and enhanced quality of life."

Rahn said any stimulus package couldn't come too soon. He noted many states have had to delay projects because of the decline in revenue generated by fuel use and motor vehicle sales. While MoDOT has not yet had to postpone or cancel projects, state revenues are down almost 5 percent for the first four months of the fiscal year - about an $18 million decline. If the trend continues, the state could face a $73 million shortfall by the end of the fiscal year.

Editor's note: Here is the list of the proposed projects. The Ready to Go logo can be found at www.modot.org/newsroom. Recorded comments will also be posted on the newsroom site later today, so please check back.

MoDOT's Ready-to-Go Transportation Projects

Adair County, Route 63 - Construct 6 miles of new two-lane roadway on four-lane right of way on east side of Kirksville from Benton Way to southern Route 6 connection. $18 million

Atchison County, Route 136 - Painting, new deck and bridge repairs on Missouri River bridge at Brownville, NE. $9 million

Barry/Lawrence/Christian/Greene Counties, Route 60 - Construct alternating/intermittent passing lanes from east of Chapell Drive in Monett to Kansas Avenue in Republic. $23 million

Barton/Bates Counties, Route 71 - Convert four at-grade intersections at Route 52, Route 126, Routes DD/EE and Routes V/C to interchanges as part of I-49 upgrade. $27 million

Benton County, Routes 83/65/7 - Painting and/or rehabilitation of bridges on Route 83 over Truman Lake near Mockingbird Road; Route 65 over the Osage River near Warsaw; and Route 7 over Truman Lake (Osage Arm Bridge and Grand River Arm Bridge). $19 million

Boone County, Route 63/COLT Railroad - Build railroad bridge over Route 63 north of Route B in Columbia. $9 million

Cape Girardeau County, SEMO Port - Construct new rail line above flood region. $1 million

Clay County, Route 1 - Sidewalk improvements from Vivion Road to 72nd Street. $1.5 million

Clay County, Route 169 - Sidewalk improvements from Route 92 to Route KK. $1.5 million

Clay County, Route 210 - Widen to four lanes from Eldon Road to Route 291. $32 million

Clinton County, Route 35 - Resurface north and southbound lanes from north of Shoal Creek to north of Route 116 near Lathrop. $18 million

Cooper County, Route 70 - Pavement improvements on westbound lanes from 0.3 mile east of Route B to Lamine River. $7 million

Crawford County, Route 44 - Pavement rehabilitation on westbound lanes from 0.6 mile west of Route H to Phelps County line. $2 million

Franklin County, Route 44 - Pavement rehabilitation on eastbound and westbound lanes from Route 30 to east of Bourbeuse River. $44 million

Greene County, Route 65 - Widen to six lanes from I-44 to Route 60 (James River Freeway).$37 million

Jackson County, Route 150 - Widen from two lanes to four lanes from Horridge Road to Route 291. $17 million

Johnson County, Knob Noster Rail Project - Construct 0.86 mile of parallel track near Knob Noster and Route 23. $7 million

Johnson County, Skyhaven Airport - Construct new airport apron. $2 million
Lafayette County, Route 70 - Pavement improvements on eastbound and westbound lanes from

Jackson County line to Odessa. $8 million

Miller County, Route 17 - Replace Osage River bridge 1 mile east of Tuscumbia. $9 million

New Madrid County, New Madrid Port - Construct railroad extension and warehouse.$2 million

Pemiscot County, Route 55 - Pavement rehabilitation on northbound lanes from Arkansas state line to I-155. $11 million

Pemiscot/New Madrid Counties, Route 55 - Pavement rehabilitation on northbound and southbound lanes from I-155 to Scott County. $22 million

Phelps County, Route 44 - Major pavement rehabilitation/reconstruction on westbound lanes from Business Loop 44 (Rolla) to Sugartree Road Interchange. $12 million

Platte County, Route 29 - Resurface pavement and shoulders on northbound and southbound lanes at various locations from Route 273 to Vivion Road. $12 million

St. Charles County 364/94/Page Avenue - Extend Page Avenue from 0.4 mile east of Jungermann to 0.3 mile west of Central School Road. $49 million

St. Louis County, Route 67 - Pedestrian improvements from I-270 to Old St. Charles Road.$1 million

St. Louis County, Route 141 - Add turn and auxiliary lanes from Route 40/I-64 to St. Luke's Hospital Drive in Chesterfield, and Town and Country. $8 million

St. Louis County, Route AC - Pedestrian improvements from Route 67 to I-270. $1 million

Scott County, Sikeston Memorial Municipal Airport - Overlay runway at Sikeston Airport.$3 million

Statewide Minor Routes - Provide 700 to 1,400 miles of pavement improvements to statewide lettered rural routes. $30 - $60 million

Statewide Transit - Purchase 200 public transit vehicles statewide. $10 - $20 million

Taney County, Route 76 - Sidewalk improvements from Roark Valley Road to Gretna.$1 million

Wayne County, Route 34 - Widen, build shoulders and straighten two locations between Route N and Piedmont. $16 million

Given additional funding beyond $510 million, significant portions of these four projects totaling $290 million could be awarded during calendar year 2009.

Jackson County, Route 435/70 Interchange - Construct new half diamond interchange at Route 40/I-435, replace Blue Ridge Cut-off bridge over I-70, add lanes to I-70 and modify some ramps. $32 million

Jefferson County, Route 55 - Add lanes, relocate existing weigh station, replace eight bridges and revise Route M interchange from Route M to Route Z. $68 million

McDonald County, Route 71 - Construct freeway from Pineville to Arkansas state line.$74 million

St. Louis County, Route 141 - Construct Route 141 on relocation from Route 340 to St. Luke's Hospital Drive. $116 million

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lack of Funding for Transportation Puts Lives, Jobs and Quality of Life At Risk

MoDOT Issues Annual Report to State Legislature

JEFFERSON CITY – When you see the face of a bubbly, bouncing baby girl, you probably don’t think of transportation. But the Missouri Department of Transportation’s annual report to the state legislature aims to make the connection that investing in transportation is investing in the next generation’s future. The report points out that jobs, lives and our quality of life are at stake if we don’t invest in transportation.

“Great nations build and invest for succeeding generations, like our parents and grandparents did,” MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said. “We must invest in transportation if we want to save lives, remain economically competitive and improve our quality of life.”

Rahn noted that the newest section of Interstate 70 in Missouri is 41 years old, though it was built to last just 20 years. Large truck traffic, which now makes up 25 percent of the travel on Interstates 70 and 44, is expected to double by 2030.

“Our highways are deteriorating with many fixes today being no more than Band-Aids,” Rahn said. “We’ve exceeded the capacity of 83 percent of our national highway system resulting in ever-growing congestion and a tremendous waste of our collective time and waning fuel supplies, as well as increasing air pollution due to idling vehicles.”

Although many needs remain, the report also highlights MoDOT’s progress in improving state highways and making them safer thanks to recent revenue redirected to road and bridge projects. Rahn cited the following statistics as proof:

· Over the last two years, Missouri has seen a 21 percent decrease in traffic deaths – the second-largest decrease in the nation.

· Seventy-eight percent of the state’s major roads are now in good condition compared to 46 percent in 2005.

· Over the last five years, MoDOT has completed $5.6 billion worth of work within seven-tenths of a percent of the estimate. The $38 million saved went toward additional highway work.

Looking to the future, the department has begun a new initiative to find out what Missourians want in their transportation system. Called A Conversation for Moving Missouri Forward, the information-seeking effort outlines five options for delivering a quality transportation system: take care of roads and bridges; do a better job of providing other ways to get around; rebuild Interstates 70 and 44; tackle needed major projects and meet regional needs.

Rahn also said his agency would once again make a push for the Missouri legislature to pass a primary safety belt law in the upcoming legislative session. Missouri's current safety belt law allows only secondary enforcement, meaning motorists can be ticketed only if the driver is first pulled over for another offense. A primary safety belt law in Missouri would save an estimated 90 lives and prevent more than 1,000 serious injuries each year.

The entire annual report, including an executive summary, can be found on MoDOT’s Web site, www.modot.org.

Editor’s note: Taped comments on this subject from MoDOT Director Pete Rahn can be found on MoDOT’s Web site at www.modot.org/newsroom.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Name the Train" Contest Announced for Amtrak Kansas City to St. Louis Service

JEFFERSON CITY and ST. LOUIS - A celebration of 30 years of state-supported passenger rail across Missouri, as well as major service improvements in the works, are the reasons the Missouri Department of Transportation and Amtrak® are pleased to announce a contest to give the trains a brand-new name. The "Name the Train" contest will rely on train fans everywhere to first suggest and then select the best "brand-name" for the service between St. Louis and Kansas City.

There will be three phases to the contest. First, submit your favorite name between Nov. 10 and Dec. 10. Contest entries may be submitted online at http://www.morail.org/; mailed to MoDOT, Name the Train Contest, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO 65102; or hand-delivered to any MoDOT district office (locations at modot.org). Contest rules are posted at the morail.org website.

Contest judges will select five names as finalists. Between, Dec. 16, 2008 and Jan. 16, 2009, voting will be conducted online or by a post card indicating your favorite finalist name. The new name will be announced by January 30, 2009.

The contest is open to anyone, but you must be a Missouri resident to win a prize. Five finalists will receive two round-trip coach tickets to any Amtrak destination in Missouri and a gift basket from one of five participating cities located on passenger rail line. The grand-prize winner will receive two round-trip sleeping car tickets to any Amtrak destination in the U.S.

Since 1979, Amtrak has provided state-supported passenger rail service between St. Louis and Kansas City. Amtrak runs two round trips daily. The trains carry tens of thousands of passengers a year with stops in St. Louis, Kirkwood, Washington, Hermann, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lee's Summit, Independence and Kansas City.

"With major track improvements to improve on-time service planned next spring, 2009 will be exciting for rail service in our state. It will be great to start it off with a new identity for our trains," said MoDOT Railroads Administrator Rod Massman. "We're looking for something that reminds folks of Missouri's great tradition of rail service, as well as the excitement and adventure of train travel. I'm looking forward to seeing what people come up with."

Missouri's cross-state passenger trains already have names, but they're little used and unknown to most people. One round-trip is called Missouri Service, formerly named the Ann Rutledge - a leftover from that train's Illinois origins. The other round-trip is called the Mules. Renaming the trains will create a single brand for the service, a practice that is common on other Amtrak corridors.

"This is a great time for Amtrak service in Missouri, with a new station opening in St. Louis, renovations at Sedalia and other upcoming rail improvements that will improve the quality of the service we provide," said Anne McGinnis, Amtrak Marketing, St. Louis. "The Name the Train contest" is a way for the citizens of the state of Missouri to participate in shaping our future."

Friday, November 7, 2008

Highway Signs to Pay Tribute to Veterans

JEFFERSON CITY – In honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, the Missouri Department of Transportation is using the message boards along state interstates to recognize those who have served our country in the armed forces.

The signs – 60 in all – will rotate messages supporting veterans and reminding the public about this important day. They are located throughout the state on Interstates 70, 44, 55, 29 and 35 and on U.S. Route 60.

"This is a small gesture when compared to the sacrifices our veterans have made for us," said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. "The signs will send a message of support to veterans and their families and provide food for thought to the thousands of people who see them."

Rahn said the Veterans Day messages would also be a good reminder of the connection between the interstates and national defense. In 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation creating the interstate system, he announced it as "the National Defense Highway System." The system was designed to move military equipment and personnel efficiently.
When the electronic boards are not conveying information about travel times, traffic accidents, road conditions or work zones, the department uses them to provide highway safety messages.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

MU’s Pinkel Plugs Seatbelt Use

JEFFERSON CITY – Mizzou Head Football Coach Gary Pinkel and the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety have teamed up to take on the Tigers’ most formidable opponent yet: people who don’t buckle up.

Pinkel appears in a new public service announcement that features a defenseless Tiger wannabe at the mercy of the real thing. As the giant, growling football player moves in for the tackle, a dark shadow falls over his trembling victim. A female scientist says, “In an automobile accident, 6,000 pounds of force is transferred to the body of the occupant, roughly the same amount of force as taking a hit from an MU football player.”

The punch line? “If the MU football player was 64-feet tall.”

Straight-man Pinkel delivers the PSA’s serious message: “In a crash your seat belt is your best defense. Drive safe, drive sober and always buckle up. We want you to Arrive Alive.”

The Mizzou coach has appeared in several public service announcements promoting highway safety. This past April, he was seen on billboards and heard on radio promoting motorcycle safety. In one of those spots, Pinkel, an avid motorcycle rider, asks drivers to be on the lookout for motorcycles and keep Missouri roads safe for everyone, “even Jayhawk fans.”

“Coach Pinkel has been a true supporter of our efforts to save lives on Missouri highways,” Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn said. “In addition to these public service announcements, thousands of people see the Arrive Alive logo on the press backdrop when the coach meets with reporters. We can’t thank him enough for lending his name and notoriety to encourage motorists to buckle up and drive sober.”

Coalition members will be out in force at Mizzou’s Oct. 25 homecoming game to further spread the safety message. As football fans enter the stadium, they will find safety advocates at various locations around the main concourse with activities to illustrate the importance of driving sober and buckling up.

Only 77 percent of Missourians wear their seat belts, well below the national average of 82 percent. For teenagers, the rate is even lower – just 62 percent.

“It’s amazing what the simple act of buckling up can do,” said Rahn. “You have a one in 32 chance of being killed in a crash if you’re not wearing your seat belt. If you’re belted in, your chance of being killed falls to one in 1,294.”

Rahn said his agency would once again make a push for the Missouri legislature to pass a primary safety belt law in the upcoming legislative session. Missouri’s current safety belt law allows only secondary enforcement, meaning motorists can be ticketed only if the driver is first pulled over for another offense. A primary safety belt law in Missouri would save an estimated 90 lives and prevent more than 1,000 serious injuries each year.

You can view the MU football PSA on the big screen at Mizzou home football games or on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFkFYjqm4go

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In the Face of Funding Shortfalls, States Are Adopting MoDOT’s Cost Savings Plan

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Transportation's innovative highway design concept called Practical Design is quickly becoming a national model because of the cost savings it creates. Several states have taken notice of how Missouri's no-frills plan is meeting the state's transportation needs while cutting costs by more than a half-billion dollars over the last three years.

By using Practical Design, MoDOT saves money by customizing its highway construction projects to fit specific needs rather than applying generic standards across the board. Over the past three years, this method has saved more than $500 million that has been reinvested in additional transportation improvements. So far in fiscal year 2009, MoDOT has delivered $118 million of work $2.4 million, or 2 percent, under budget.

Department officials have worked closely with two states that have implemented spin offs of the Practical Design concept conceived by MoDOT in 2004. The state of Idaho adopted Practical Design in 2007 and, just last month, the state of Kentucky unveiled its Practical Solutions initiative. Other states, seeking out ways to meet their own transportation needs in challenging economic times, have also shown interest in Practical Design.

"Many DOTs across the nation are finding it more and more difficult to work within their budgets due to rising fuel and construction materials costs, growing economic concerns and decreasing state and federal funds," said MoDOT Chief Engineer Kevin Keith. "Money is dwindling while the competition for these resources is increasing. That is requiring DOTs to find ways to get the biggest bang for every transportation buck.

"Practical Design has allowed Missouri to make wise investments in our transportation system, building many ‘good' projects rather than just a few ‘perfect' projects. As financial times get even leaner, this concept will ensure we can stretch every dollar we have to meet as many of our transportation needs as we can."

Implementing Practical Design in conjunction with several other MoDOT initiatives has improved road conditions and made the state's transportation system safer. The Show Me State has gone from having the third worst pavement on major roads to an estimated ninth best, with 78 percent of our major roads now in good condition. Missouri also recorded the second-largest percentage decrease in traffic-related fatalities of any state in the nation over the last two years.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Guest Commentary: 802 Better Bridges By Pete Rahn, director, Missouri Department of Transportation

Within five years, 802 of Missouri’s worst bridges will be repaired or replaced. These badly needed improvements will mean crashes avoided, jobs created and the ability to get where you are going easier.

When we launched the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program in September 2006, we sought to fix 802 of the state’s worst bridges using an innovative design-build-finance-maintain approach. We knew it was a bold step - something no other state had ever attempted - but we also knew it would allow us to quickly accomplish what Missourians wanted us to do: fix our ailing state bridges.

We budgeted $50 million a year out of our federal bridge money to pay for the program. In February 2008 we reached an agreement with Missouri Bridge Partners for nearly everything we sought at a cost of $52.7 million annually. Almost immediately the financial crisis our economy has been experiencing began to impact their proposal. Today, payments are estimated at $65 million to $74 million depending upon actual interest rates at the time of financial close. This is just too expensive. It is not the best use of taxpayers’ money and at this cost could threaten highway and bridge improvements in our adopted five-year construction program.

We’re proud to say we’ll still be delivering 802 improved bridges to Missourians in five years – we’ll just be packaging and paying for the work a little differently. When all is said and done, our new approach will likely save taxpayers $300 million to $500 million.

Here’s how it will work: at least 100 bridges will be under construction early next year using accelerated project management techniques; 554 bridges will be included in a single design-build package that will be advertised this fall and awarded in late spring 2009; the remaining 148 bridges will be improved over the following four years also using an accelerated process. We’ll sell bonds and use federal bridge replacement funds we receive each year to make the annual payment.

Safe & Sound has always been about fixing bad bridges quickly and economically, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. The experience we gained from this innovative approach suggests the project is very feasible. We worked with many excellent contractors and designers who provided competitive proposals. However, their good work could not overcome the extreme volatility in the nation’s credit markets.

MoDOT has purchased from the final two teams their technical plans and design and exploration data. This is a good value and will allow us to work with our private sector partners to jump-start this important work.

In the end, it’s not really about which delivery method gets us there, but that we get there, that matters. We promised to give Missourians a safer transportation system by fixing hundreds of our lowest-rated bridges in a short amount of time, and we’ll deliver on our promise.

We are excited to get to work. The sooner these bridges are under construction, the sooner Missourians will reap the benefits - safer roads, more jobs and increased mobility.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

MoDOT Launches Largest Bridge Project In State History

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission today approved plans to improve 802 of Missouri’s lowest rated bridges in five years, starting with 100 structures that will be under construction early next year. The Missouri Department of Transportation, though, will manage the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program differently than the Design-Build-Finance-Maintain contract that was envisioned when the program was launched two years ago.

The Commission decided to conclude the procurement process that had previously identified Missouri Bridge Partners (MBP) as the apparent best-value proposer, citing the turmoil in the financial markets that made the proposal unaffordable, and directed MoDOT to move forward with alternative methods to deliver Safe & Sound.

There will be 554 bridge replacements included in a single design-build package to be advertised this fall and awarded in late spring 2009. The remaining 248 bridges to be improved will be contracted using a modified design-bid-build approach, where projects are grouped by type, size or location to accelerate construction schedules.

“Safe & Sound has always been about fixing bad bridges quickly and economically,” MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said. “The experience of this process tells us that the design-build-finance-maintain approach is very feasible, but for this particular project, at a time of extreme volatility in the nation’s credit markets, the requirement for private financing made Missouri Bridge Partner’s proposal just too expensive for our budget.”

Under the Missouri Bridge Partners plan, MoDOT would have been required to make annual payments that would have ranged between $65-74 million, depending on interest rates.

“We had budgeted for a $50 million annual payment, using roughly one-third of the federal bridge replacement funds Missouri receives each year,” Rahn said. “At a time when we are faced with declining revenues and increasing costs, the Commission was concerned we might not be able to honor our commitments in MoDOT’s five-year construction program if we went forward at a price over our budget. Keeping our promises is the Commission’s absolute top priority.

“The turmoil in the credit markets had a tremendous impact on the cost of this project, and extended contract negotiations while we waited to see if a calming of the credit markets would make this project financially viable. Unfortunately, that did not happen.”

MoDOT has spent $15.6 million on development of the Safe & Sound program, an investment that will enable it to have 100 bridge projects under contract by spring, and will also reduce the cost of other contracting options and speed their implementation. Included in the cost to date are stipends paid to MBP and Team United, the other proposing team that was eliminated from consideration by the Commission in December 2007. Those stipends convey ownership of the technical concepts developed by each team to MoDOT for its future use. Additionally, MBP developed bridge plans and conducted surveys and geotechnical investigations in the field under a Limited Notice to Proceed issued by the Commission in June that MoDOT will use to get work under way. MoDOT also located utilities at bridge locations – work that won’t have to be repeated.

Rahn said MoDOT plans to issue bonds to pay for the project with annual payments of approximately $50 million as budgeted previously. With finance charges, it’s estimated that MoDOT’s new plan will be $300-500 million cheaper than the MBP proposal.

A complete list of all the bridges in the Safe & Sound program and other information can be found on the MoDOT Web site at www.modot.mo.gov/safeandsound.

“Ultimately,” Rahn said, “the question became whether MBP or MoDOT could provide financing for the project at the lowest cost. In view of the present turmoil in the financial markets, the answer is that MoDOT could do it for less.

“Better bridges are coming soon.”

Editor’s note: Recorded comments on this subject from MoDOT Director Pete Rahn can be found at www.modot.org/newsroom.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Statement from MoDOT Director Pete Rahn on Federal Highway Trust Fund

JEFFERSON CITY – “MoDOT is grateful that Congress and the President have moved quickly to alleviate the financial crisis we all faced as the Highway Trust Fund plunged into insolvency.

The fact is that this is a short-term solution. The action to replace some $8billion previously taken out of the Trust Fund buys us one year’s breathing room to focus on how the nation will meet its future transportation needs. We have to face up to the reality that America must rebuild and renew our aging system if we hope to give our children the same chance at prosperity that we’ve had.

I hope the bipartisan cooperation that brought all parties together in this crisis will continue as we address the challenge that is just around the corner,” said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Missouri High Schools Challenged to Battle to Buckle Up!

Seat Belt Campaign to Save Teen Lives

Calling all Missouri high schools to battle! The 2008 Battle of the Belt Challenge is under way. Sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, the statewide competition is in its third year and will run Sept. 15 – Nov. 21 to educate young drivers about seat belt use and hopefully save lives and reduce traffic-crash injuries.

Although comprising only 7 percent of Missouri’s licensed drivers, young drivers were involved in 19 percent of the fatal and disabling injury crashes. Since 1995 in Missouri, more than 1,900 teen occupants ages 15-19 years old have been killed and more than 20,000 have experienced disabling injuries in nearly 18,000 severe crashes.

To battle these statistics, more than 80 schools took the challenge in 2007, with students performing surprise seat belt checks at their high school, coupled with an educational campaign on the importance of seat belt use. In addition to the peer seat belt checks and educational campaign, students had the opportunity to submit a video of a 30-second television spot. Each winning entry received cash prizes, and the video winner was aired statewide. The top video entry last year was a creative spot featuring a car, a banana peel and a lesson on buckling up. It can be viewed at saveMOyouth.com.

“More than 80 percent of the teens killed in Missouri vehicle crashes each year aren’t buckled up,” said Leanna Depue, chair of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety’s executive committee. “That’s why we’re so excited to have schools participate in the Battle of the Belt challenge. Through education, competition and fun, we can make a difference with Missouri teens and save lives.”

Missouri high schools may choose to participate in one or both components of the program. Prizes will be awarded for each component.

Prizes include:
· $1,000 to the Missouri school with the highest overall safety belt use rate
· $1,000 to the Missouri school with the most improved safety belt use rate
· $1,000 to the student or group producing a winning 30-second video PSA for safety belt use, and professional production of the video and possible use in local and statewide media
· Regional monetary awards for the highest overall safety belt use rate and most improved safety belt use rate


The 2008 Battle of the Belt challenge is sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety and American Family Insurance.

For more information on Battle of the Belt and last year’s winners, or to sign up your local high school for the 2008 challenge, visit www.saveMOyouth.com.

Buckle Up to Arrive Alive!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Highway Trust Fund Shortfall Could Cause State Highway Projects to be Canceled

JEFFERSON CITY - Today's announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation that it would curtail federal highway payments to the states could cause Missouri road and bridge projects to be delayed or even canceled. If Congress fails to provide $8 billion to the Federal Highway Trust Fund as requested by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, it could mean Missouri would lose $252 million, which translates to 8,770 jobs lost.

"If Congress doesn't act to shore up the funding in the Federal Highway Trust Fund, we will have to take a hard look at the projects we have planned in our five-year construction program to determine if we'll be able to move ahead with them," said Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn. "This will have a devastating ripple effect, because it could mean lost jobs and less business for suppliers and contractors. Our communities will feel the blow, as will the driving public."

The trust fund is primarily funded by federal fuel taxes - 18.4 cents a gallon on gas and 24.4 cents on diesel. Rising fuel costs have sped the depletion of the trust fund. Fewer miles driven and more fuel-efficient vehicles mean fewer gallons of gas bought and lower than expected revenues. In Missouri, fuel tax revenues for July and August were down 8.7 percent compared to last year. About 70 percent of MoDOT's highway construction budget is federally funded.

"This problem has been building for three years, but little to nothing has been done to correct it," Rahn said. "It's time for Congress to use general revenue to reimburse the highway trust fund. Even if that happens, it will just be a short-term fix. In the long run, we need to find better ways and new funding mechanisms to support our nation's vital transportation system."

Editor's note: Taped comments by MoDOT Director Pete Rahn are available on MoDOT's newsroom, www.modot.org/newsroom.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

MoDOT Readies Roads for Tour of Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY – When 120 of the world’s greatest bicyclists spin their way through Missouri Sept. 8-14 for the Tour of Missouri bicycle race, the Missouri Department of Transportation will be working behind the scenes to make sure the way is safe for cyclists, motorists and spectators.

MoDOT has been working with event organizers to map the race routes and develop traffic management plans to minimize the impact on the traveling public. Now that the route is set, MoDOT’s focus is to share information with the public about road closings during the race.

“We’ve worked hard to contribute to making this a successful event for the state of Missouri,” said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. “As the race goes along, safety for the traveling public and for the cyclists is our major concern.”

MoDOT will also work closely with the Missouri State Highway Patrol throughout the race to secure the routes, Rahn said. Most of the affected roads will be closed a few minutes ahead of the racers and will be opened back up as soon as they pass through, keeping road closings to about 20-30 minutes.

More information about the race, including maps of the race routes, can be found on MoDOT’s Web site, www.modot.org/tourofmissouri, and at www.tourofmissouri.com.

Friday, August 29, 2008

State’s Commuter Lot Use Up 21 Percent

High Gas Prices Push Carpooling Up
JEFFERSON CITY - Commuter parking lots are more popular than ever along Missouri highways, according to the latest figures from the Missouri Department of Transportation. Nearly 3,000 vehicles used a state-maintained commuter lot on a typical workday this May -- up 21 percent from February.

"We've seen dramatic growth in commuter lot use this year," said MoDOT Maintenance Liaison Engineer Tim Chojnacki. There's no doubt that high gas prices are encouraging more and more people to park and ride."

MoDOT maintains 106 commuter lots statewide, located at access points along major highways. The latest results show 2,960 vehicles using those lots on a typical summer workday, compared to 2,438 in the spring.

"We're pleased that more drivers are carpooling to work," Chojnacki said. "It helps the environment, helps fight traffic congestion, and certainly helps your pocketbook.

"But there are more than 6,000 total parking spaces available statewide on our commuter lots, so I hope to see usage keep growing," he added.

Visit modot.org for complete details on commuter lot locations and parking capacity, as well as other state and local carpooling information.

Editor's note: Here's a direct link to MoDOT's commuter lot information: http://www.modot.org/services/Commuters/CommuterLots.htm

Friday, August 15, 2008

MO Lives Saved on Missouri Roads

JEFFERSON CITY -- Over the last two years, Missouri has seen a 21 percent decrease in traffic deaths – the second-largest percentage decrease in the nation. South Dakota had the largest percentage decrease at 21.5 percent.

Missouri’s traffic deaths decreased from 1,257 in 2005, to1,096 in 2006 and finally to 992 in 2007. Currently, Missouri traffic deaths year-to-date for 2008 have declined by seven percent.

A large part of the reduction is attributed to the state and regional efforts of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. The coalition is a large group of safety advocates who banded together in 2004 to create Missouri’s Blueprint for Safer Roadways to attack the problem of traffic crashes and deaths. Strategies include increased law enforcement activity, engineering improvements and educational programs.

Within the Blueprint, Missouri’s fatality reduction goal was set at “1,000 or fewer fatalities by 2008.” The coalition met that goal one year early.

“The power of partnerships and a single vision have proven effective. Law enforcement, engineering and education – all of these factors are working together to save lives, and we’re thrilled to see the results,” said Leanna Depue, chair of the coalition’s executive committee.

Nationally, the number of people who died on the nation’s roads reached historically low levels in 2007, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last year, the overall number of traffic fatalities in the nation fell to 41,059 – a 3.9 percent decline from 2006, and the lowest number of traffic deaths since 1994.

“When more people take the time to buckle up, pay attention and drive sober, more motorists in Missouri will Arrive Alive,” said Depue.

The coalition continues to work toward the passage of a primary safety belt law in Missouri, which would save an additional 90 lives and prevent more than 1,000 serious injuries each year.

For more information, visit www.saveMOlives.com.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Missouri Highways Climb In National Rankings

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri is among the nation's leaders in maintaining its transportation system and getting good value, according to a report issued recently by the Reason Foundation, which measures every state's road conditions and expenses.

Missouri jumped to a national rank of 13th in 2006, compared to a rank of 17th in 2005 and 28th in 2004.

"We've made a lot of progress making Missouri roads smoother and safer in just a few short years," said Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn. "These new statistics are just beginning to reflect how the early completion of our Smooth Roads Initiative in 2006 and the Better Roads, Brighter Future plan now under way are making a big difference in the quality and safety of our transportation system. As a result, 78 percent of our roads are now in good condition."

The Reason Foundation's 17th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems analyzes the effectiveness and performance of each state in 12 categories, including traffic fatalities, congestion, pavement condition, bridge condition, highway maintenance costs and administrative costs.

Missouri tied with several other states for first in rural interstate condition, with all the state's 799 miles in good condition. "These highways are some of the most heavily traveled in

the state, and bringing them up to good condition was a top priority for us," Rahn said.

MoDOT is among the most efficient in managing a state highway system, ranking 4th in administrative costs per mile. "We're committed to putting dollars into transportation improvements, rather than overhead costs," Rahn said. "We've whittled our administrative costs down to about 3 percent of our budget."

Improvement areas remain, however. The state ranked 40th in deficient bridges with 30.5 percent deficient. And Missouri ranked 33rd nationally for its fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

"Bridges remain a top concern not only in Missouri, but also across the nation," Rahn said. "Through the Safe & Sound Program, we will improve 800 deficient bridges in five years. Once finalized, this program will quickly improve the condition of many of our smaller bridges."

Rahn also noted that Missouri is also making progress toward decreasing highway fatalities. In 2006, Missouri led the nation in lives saved with 161 fewer fatalities. In 2007, the state experienced 118 fewer highway deaths and the number of fatalities for the year fell below 1,000 for the first time in 15 years.

Improvements in Missouri roads were also highlighted in March, when the Pew Center on the States gave Missouri a B+ for its infrastructure performance and touted its transportation-planning processes as a national model. That score was better than all but four other states and the 50-state average grade of a B-.

The Reason Foundation's full report is available at http://www.reason.org/ps369/

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Missouri Cracks Down on Impaired Drivers

JEFFERSON CITY – On August 8, 2008, a lineup of .08 presents the opportunity to send a strong message to impaired drivers: You Drink & Drive. You Lose.

The statewide campaign aimed at stopping motorists from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety and kicks off Aug. 8. Advertising and enforcement begins the following week and continues through Labor Day.

“It is important that we inform Missourians about the dangers of alcohol abuse and drunk driving,” Gov. Matt Blunt said. “In Missouri if someone chooses to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, they are not only putting others at risk, they are choosing to face very serious consequences that could impact their driving privileges.”

Television ads reinforce the consequences of impaired driving by using a play on words, beginning with scenes of a beer mug and shot glass and ending with an impaired driver’s police station mug shot.

“DWI enforcement is a priority with the Missouri State Highway Patrol 365 days a year,” said Colonel James F. Keathley, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “If you are stopped and found to be intoxicated, you will be arrested.”

Blunt added he has been instrumental in cracking down on impaired driving.

“As governor I have signed into law tough new penalties for drinking and driving including ignition interlocks for repeat drunk driving offenders.”
Is it worth it?

Consider these statistics:

· During 2007 in Missouri 243 people died in more than 7,700 alcohol-related crashes.
· Last year in Missouri someone was killed or injured every 1.7 hours in an alcohol-related crash.

Alcohol-related traffic crashes over the last five years:
Year
Killed
Injured

Total Number of Alcohol-related Crashes

2003
277
5,454
8,081

2004
252
5,450
8,301

2005
274
5,216
7,888

2006
270
5,157
7,947

2007
243
4,889
7,780

For more information visit www.saveMOlives.com.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Missouri Bridges Safe for Travel

JEFFERSON CITY – It has been almost a year since the tragic collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, and the Missouri Department of Transportation has spent that time inspecting and evaluating bridges around the state.

The morning after the Aug. 1 tragedy, Gov. Matt Blunt asked MoDOT officials to inspect all deck truss bridges in the state that were similar to the bridge that collapsed. Just two months later, MoDOT had inspected the 11 deck truss bridges in depth and confirmed they were safe.

In January 2008, federal investigators determined that design flaws with some of the gusset plates, as well as weight added to the bridge, contributed to the Minneapolis collapse. Truss bridges use steel gusset plates to hold together the steel beams that support the structure. MoDOT has 232 truss bridges, 76 of which have had weight added to them since their original construction. To date, no problems related to the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge have been found on these bridges.

"MoDOT takes bridge safety very seriously and we immediately close any structure we determine to be unsafe," said State Bridge Engineer Dennis Heckman. "When further information is released from the investigation of the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, we will determine if that information applies to the bridges in Missouri and take any action necessary."

Missouri has more than 10,000 bridges that are inspected a minimum of every two years.

Meanwhile, MoDOT continues developing its Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program.
This program will replace or rehabilitate more than 800 of the state’s most worn-out bridges. A map of the 800 bridges that will be improved or replaced is available at www.modot.org.

Also, MoDOT Director Pete Rahn joined Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and other transportation officials in Philadelphia on July 28 to address the need for greater investment in the nation's bridges. Rahn is president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which has released an in-depth analysis that outlines the condition of America’s bridges and the future challenges to restore and rebuild those bridges. The report can be found at http://www.transportation.org/

Editor’s note: Photos of MoDOT Director Pete Rahn announcing the release of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ in-depth analysis of the condition of America’s bridges can be found at http://www.modot.org/newsroom/index.htm.

Monday, July 14, 2008

MoDOT Making Widgets

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Transportation is making widgets.

Once a common economics term to describe hypothetical products, widgets are now a staple in the Internet world. They allow Web users to get information delivered directly to their computer desktops, Web sites, blog pages or personal Internet pages, such as Facebook and MySpace.

MoDOT offers four widgets that provide information on job openings, YouTube videos, blog posts and news releases. A fifth widget provides all four subjects in one. The widgets can be found at www.modot.org/widgets.

MoDOT is the first Missouri state agency to offer this technology to its Web site visitors.
“Widgets help us provide easy access to transportation information,” said Matt Hiebert, MoDOT web manager. “With a widget, the information comes to you, rather than you having to search for it.”

Visitors just need to click on the Add Widget tab at the bottom of the individual widgets they wish to place. From there, they can choose where to place and display the widget.

“If you have an iGoogle search page, for example, you can keep up with the latest MoDOT news and information with the click of a mouse,” Hiebert said.

The department will be offering more widgets in the near future, such as a desktop widget.“With a desktop widget you don’t even have to be on a browser to get the latest transportation news,” Hiebert said. “It will load directly onto your desktop.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Missouri Supplies $5 Million for Improved Amtrak Service

CHICAGO and JEFFERSON CITY - Reliability of Kansas City to St. Louis trains operated by Amtrak for the Missouri Department of Transportation can improve, thanks to $5 million provided by the Missouri state legislature and approved by Gov. Matt Blunt to increase track capacity on the route. The Missouri Mules (Trains 311, 313, 314 & 316) provide twice-daily round trips across the state and have been plagued by lengthy delays due to heavy freight traffic on the Union Pacific Railroad line.

"This is great news for Missouri," said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. "This funding will lead to improved service, helping make Amtrak trains an even better travel alternative."
New track extensions, called sidings, will reduce bottlenecks between Kansas City and Jefferson City in west central Missouri. These parallel tracks can allow trains to pass each other without having to stop. In addition to the state appropriation, MoDOT is seeking an additional $5 million in federal matching funding from a new Federal Railroad Administration program.

"This marks a major change in Missouri's approach to passenger rail," Rahn added. "State-supported Amtrak service has been running between Kansas City and St. Louis since 1979 and each year legislators have budgeted only enough money to operate the trains; nothing to build improvements. This capital improvement funding shows a new level of commitment by our legislators to Amtrak service."

Missouri Senate Leader Mike Gibbons was instrumental in the legislative push to provide the additional funding.

"As gas prices continue to rise, Missourians need and deserve a reliable and affordable alternate mode of travel," he said. "This funding allows trains to pass without delay, relieves congestion and will improve on-time performance of passenger rail, meaning it will be a real option for travelers."

Improvements on the line could not be occurring at a better time. Ridership between Kansas City and St. Louis increased sharply in April and May, compared to the same period last year.

"Much of this route is a single set of tracks and Amtrak trains share the limited capacity with numerous freight trains," said Michael Franke, Amtrak Assistant Vice President - State Partnerships. "Investments in infrastructure have been sorely needed for passenger trains to operate more reliably between St. Louis and Kansas City.

"This capital funding is an important first step in addressing the capacity of this heavily-used corridor and such investments in the infrastructure will ultimately lead to improvements in train performance," Franke added.

A study of chokepoints on the route was completed in 2007 by the University of Missouri-Columbia and siding construction and extensions were found to have the most immediate prospect for service improvements.

"This study forms the basis of discussions with Union Pacific Railroad as to how the project will be implemented, and discussions with the railroad on how the project will take shape will begin in the next few weeks," said Brian Weiler, MoDOT Director of Multimodal Operations. "These improvements will also complement Union Pacific's own improvements near the chokepoints at the Gasconade and Osage rivers."

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Slow Down Payoff? -- Money and Lives

Drive Carefully During The Busy Summer Travel Season

JEFFERSON CITY – With gas prices at an all-time high and thousands of Missourians hitting the highway for the three-day Independence Day holiday and summer travel season, there are two simple steps to save your money and your life – slow down and wear your seatbelt.

According to the U. S. Department of Energy, aggressive driving such as speeding, rapid acceleration and braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent around town. The agency also estimates that drivers can assume that each 5 mph they drive above 60 mph is like paying an additional 20 cents per gallon for gas.

“The Fourth of July is the pinnacle of the summer travel season and the height of highway construction as well,” said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. “Traveling not only takes time and money, but can be deadly as well. In fact, the deadliest days of the year in terms of traffic crashes are the 100 days from Memorial Day to Labor Day. We urge all motorists to slow down, buckle up and ARRIVE ALIVE.”

The 100 days from Memorial Day to Labor Day are also the busiest time of the year for highway travel. Typically, vehicle traffic during this time increases an average of 3 percent. More vehicles on the roads mean more distractions for drivers and more possibilities for crashes – all the more reason to slow down and buckle up.

In addition to helping fight the cost of record-high gas prices, slowing down also increases the likelihood of surviving a crash. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a passenger vehicle in a high-speed crash is subjected to forces so severe that the vehicle structure cannot withstand the impact of the crash and maintain survival space in the occupant compartment.

Last year over the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, 285 people were killed and 2,286 were injured. Seventy percent of those killed were not wearing a seat belt; 38 percent of those killed were involved in a crash where speed was a contributing factor.

“Although our employees won’t be working over the holiday, it’s still important to watch for narrow or closed lanes and reduced speed limits in work zones,” Rahn said.

Additional fuel savings tips are available at the U.S. Dept of Energy’s Web site, http://fueleconomy.org/ and other safety and crash information is available at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Web site at www.iihs.org/default.html.

This holiday, Drive Smart to Arrive Alive:

Slow Down! – Follow speed limits to save fuel and lives.
Buckle Up! – Every trip, every time – safety belts save lives.
Stay Alert! – Dedicate your full attention to the roadway.
Follow Signs! – They’ll guide you through work zones safely.
Expect the Unexpected! – Watch for flaggers, workers and equipment.
Pay Attention! – Turn the radio down and don’t use your cellular phone.
Be Patient! – Remember workers are improving the road for future travels.
Don’t Drink and Drive! – Impairment of any kind is unacceptable.
Be Nice! – Merge as directed, don’t tailgate and don’t change lanes in a work zone.

Be prepared this holiday and check out major construction projects in advance on www.modot.org or by calling MoDOT’s customer service centers at 1-888- ASK MODOT (275-6636).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

MoDOT Director Testifies to Congress on Looming Funding Crisis

The United States is at risk of falling behind other countries in transportation funding, meaning lost jobs and lost lives, Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn warned federal lawmakers today. Testifying before a House Congressional committee, Rahn laid out the funding crisis, encouraging Congress to take action to dramatically improve the nation’s transportation system.

“We have grossly under funded both our state and federal transportation systems over the last three decades,” Rahn said. “If we continue this downward spiral, we risk losing our status as a global leader, as well as precious lives.

“To put it simply, we must pony up now to remain globally competitive or we will end up with a second-rate transportation system and a much less mobile society than we have today. China has seen the light and can be looked to as a model for investing in transportation. That country, adjusted for purchase power parity, invested $363 billion on highways alone in the last year. Compare that to the U.S., which at all levels spends annually $87 billion on highways and transit capital a year. India, according to a recent USA Today article, has tripled its infrastructure spending to $500 billion a year.”

Go to www.modot.org for the full text of news release and transcription of Pete Rahn's testimonial.

Friday, May 30, 2008

MoDOT Posts New Videos on YouTube Showcasing Projects and Highway Safety Efforts

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Transportation has just posted four new videos about highway and bridge projects, highway safety and other progress as promised on YouTube today at http://www.youtube.com/modotvideo.

The videos include:
· A flyover animation of the future landmark Mississippi River Bridge – St. Louis

· Footage of the rapid construction of the Jefferson Street Overpass – Jefferson City

· MoDOT Saving Lives and Reducing Injuries – A synopsis of MoDOT and the Missouri
Coalition for Roadway Safety’s initiatives to reduce fatalities and injuries on Missouri roads.

· SRI from MoDOT One Year Ahead of Schedule – A synopsis of MoDOT completing the work to make 2,200 miles of Missouri’s major highways Smoother and Safer, Sooner.

There are also several other MoDOT videos available, showing how dedicated truck lanes would work, dramatic footage of the Route 19 Missouri River Bridge demolition, guard cable crash tests and an aerial view of the ongoing construction on the new Interstate 64 in St. Louis.

Monday, May 19, 2008

MoDOT Announces 2008’s “Top 10 Work Zones To Look Out For”

JEFFERSON CITY – Travel season is right around the corner. With Memorial Day coming up and schools closing for the summer, millions of motorists will soon hit the road. This year they’ll discover numerous highway work zones and potential delays, because the Missouri Department of Transportation is in the middle of a very busy construction season, with hundreds of work zones active throughout the year.

“Missouri’s roads are getting better in a big way this year,” said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. “But that means there will be growing pains for the next few months. We’ve got some big projects planned that will require motorists’ full attention.”

To help travelers prepare for what’s ahead, MoDOT has put together a list of the state’s top 10 work zones to look out for, based on volume of traffic, amount of work and level of delay. “These are the projects most likely to slow you down, so avoid them if you can, especially during peak hours,” Rahn said.

The top 10 list of highway work zones to look out for in 2008 is ranked in order of impact. Most work zones will not be active over the Memorial Day weekend, but it may be necessary for lane closures to remain in place. For more information on these or other projects around the state, please call 888-ASK-MoDOT or visit http://www.modot.org/.

Top 10 Work Zones To Look Out For in 2008

1. St. Louis -- Interstate 64 – I-64 is closed, in both directions, from I-270 to I-170. Includes work on several cross streets that will close or have reduced lanes for the duration of the year. The Hampton interchange will close in September 2008 and reopen in May 2009. Additionally, other ramps and bridges will be closed throughout the year. Carries 158,000 vehicles per day. Expect delays through peak travel times. For driving directions around the closed section of I-64, use MoDOT’s Map My Trip feature at http://www.thenewi64.org/.

2. Kansas City -- kcICON: Interstate 29/35 reconstruction -- Interstate 29/35 from Route 210/Armour Road to the northeast corner of the downtown Kansas City central business district loop will have restricted lanes and various ramp closures through 2011. Carries 102,000 vehicles per day. Two restricted lanes open daily 6-8:30 a.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m. Delays expected during both peak and non-peak hours. Project includes construction of the new, Christopher S. Bond Missouri River Bridge. For more information visit http://www.kcicon.com/.

3. Columbia – Interstate 70, from Route 740 (Stadium Blvd.) in Columbia to the Missouri River Bridge at the Boone/Cooper County line -- Westbound lanes will be reduced for resurfacing work. Work will begin in June and end in late 2008. Carries 51,900 vehicles a day. Expect lane closures and moderate delays during night hours, when work is taking place.

4. St. Louis – Route HH from Kehr’s Mill to Baxter Road – Widening the road to three lanes. Permanent road restrictions are in place. Construction runs through late summer 2008. Carries 34,000 vehicles per day. Expect significant delays to traffic in the area.

5. Kansas City -- I-70 Bridge over Manchester Trafficway -- Bridge rehabilitation and redecking at Manchester Bridge, which will require three weekend closures and detours of traffic on interstate handling up to 120,000 vehicles daily. Weekend closures will be only one direction at a time and include one weekend in June and two weekends in July.

6. Springfield -- I-44/Glenstone Avenue (Route H) interchange -- The ramps at the interchange will be rebuilt, the Glenstone Avenue bridge over I-44 replaced and Glenstone Avenue (Route H) widened between I-44 and Valley Water Mill Road. Work scheduled summer 2008 through fall 2010. I-44 carries 35,000 vehicles a day, and Glenstone Avenue (Route H) carries 3,000 vehicles a day. No delays expected during peak travel times. However, it will be necessary during nighttime hours to divert I-44 traffic over ramps during bridge work.

7. Iowa Line to Boone County - Route 63 – Four resurfacing projects will upgrade 63 miles of this major corridor across Schuyler, Adair, Macon and Randolph Counties. Along with resurfacing the driving lanes and shoulders, these Better Roads Brighter Future Projects include centerline rumble strips on two-lane sections and edge line rumble strips on two-lane and four-lane sections. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in the work zones. Projects will be completed this fall. Carries up to 10,000 vehicles a day, depending on location.

8. Mississippi County -- Interstate 57 -- Southbound I-57 will be resurfaced with concrete and new shoulders added from the Illinois state line to two miles south of the Route 105 exit near Charleston. Both northbound and southbound traffic will be reduced to one lane with southbound traffic diverted to the northbound lane. Work is ongoing to late summer. Carries 10,500 vehicles daily. Ten to 15-minute delays possible.

9. Van Buren to Willow Springs – Route 60 – Four-lane expansion work will continue throughout Carter, Shannon and Howell counties with final completion of the entire corridor expected by the end of 2009. Projects include grading and paving, box culvert construction, and the building of a five-lane section through the community of Mountain View. Delays will be minimal, as most work will occur off the travel lanes. Delays through Mountain View will be moderate due to crews and equipment working directly on or near the roadway. Route 60 carries between 5,000 and 7,000 vehicles per day, depending on location.

10. Kansas City -- Route 71 -- Resurfacing of mainline and outer roads from Blue Ridge Boulevard in Grandview to 155th Street in Belton. Much of the work will occur at night and off-peak periods. More than 70,000 vehicles daily pass through the segment. Work also will begin on interchange replacements at Route 150 in Grandview, Route Y in Belton and a new interchange at about 187th Street (North Cass Parkway) in Cass County.

###

Editor’s note: For a graphic illustrating the top 10 work zones, as well as a clickable map, please visit MoDOT’s newsroom at www.modot.org/newsroom.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Five-Year Transportation Program Includes Last Hurrah of New Projects

New Major Projects Added

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's proposed five-year transportation improvement program includes a last hurrah of new transportation projects before plummeting to a program where limited funding will only cover minimal maintenance and safety work.

The 2009-2013 transportation program includes $300 million in new construction projects because lower than expected interest rates provided additional Amendment 3 bonding capacity. The $140 million bonded amount, combined with state savings from using Practical Design on projects and local matching funds, allows the Missouri Department of Transportation to tackle these new highway projects over the next five years, including additional lanes, interchange improvements and congestion relief.

"While it's great news to be able to pursue this additional work, we can't overlook the fact that in this program the Amendment 3 bond proceeds are used up, and our state transportation program goes back to critically low spending levels," MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said. "The program we're proposing marks the shift from having the opportunity to build new projects to barely maintaining what we have."

Missouri transitions from a construction program averaging $1.23 billion to a construction program of about $575 million in 2013. Compounding the funding problem is an expected decline in federal revenue, and rising fuel and construction costs.

"We have seen great progress due to Amendment 3," Rahn said. "Missouri must now have a conversation about what is to come regarding continued improvements to our transportation system."

Here are the projects added using the additional $300 Million:

· Adair County, Rt. 63, Kirksville relocation, $32 million

· Lincoln County, Rt. 61, new interchange in Troy, S. Lincoln Dr., $13 million

· Jackson County, I-70 & I-435, improve capacity Blue Ridge Cut-off & Rt. 40, $34 million

· Jackson County, I-70 & Rt. 40, relocated north outer road Grain Valley, $4 million

· Johnson County, Rt. 13, Warrensburg relocation north of Rt. 50, $22 million

· Osage County, Rt. 50, four-lane Rt. 63 to Linn $45 million

· St. Charles County, Rt. 94/364/Page Ave., upgrade to freeway Jungermann Rd to Rt. 94, $24 million

· St. Louis County, Rt. 141, purchase right of way, $23 million

· Jefferson County, I-55 & Rt. M, add ramps, $12 million

· Monett to Republic, Rt. 60, add passing lanes, $25 million

· Greene County, Rt. 65, capacity improvement Battlefield to Chestnut in Springfield, $16 million

· Stone County, Rt. 13, improve safety and capacity Rte 76 to Kimberling City bridge, $24 million

· Butler County, Rt. 67, roadway improvements Rt. M to Rt. 160, $28 million

The draft 2009-2013 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program lists all transportation projects planned by state and regional planning agencies for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 (July 1, 2008 - June 30, 2013). It totals $5.78 billion, with approximately $4.35 billion going to 662 highway and bridge projects, about $790 million to other transportation modes and approximately $640 million to local transportation programs.

"We used an extensive public involvement process to develop this program and have worked with our planning partners from communities around the state to identify and prioritize these new projects," Rahn said.

The proposed program is available for public review beginning May 14. Citizens interested in seeing the program or offering comments can contact MoDOT's customer service centers at 1-888 ASK MODOT (275-6636). The program is also available on MoDOT's Web site - http://www.modot.org/ - and at MoDOT's district offices around the state. The formal public comment period ends June 27.

Following the public review, the comments will be presented to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The commission will review the comments and the final transportation program before considering it for approval July 2.

The draft 2009-2013 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program includes transportation improvements identified by metropolitan planning organizations in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia, Jefferson City, Joplin and St. Joseph. The STIP projects located in these areas are subject to discussion and approval by the appropriate metropolitan planning organization.

Editor's Note: A map showing the program's proposed highway and bridge projects is available at http://www.modot.org/.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Buckle Up Day and Night

Click It or Ticket

JEFFERSON CITY - Buckling up only takes seconds, but these seconds could save your life in a traffic crash.

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety is joining with state and local law enforcement May 12 through Memorial Day for an aggressive national “Click It or Ticket” program to crack down on unbelted drivers and save lives. Missourians also will be reminded to buckle up through state and national advertisements.

“Seat belts clearly save lives. But unfortunately, too many folks still need a tough reminder, so we are going to be out in force buckling down on those not buckling up,” said Capt. Tim Hull of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “We don’t want to lose a single person in a traffic crash if it can be helped.”

A driver involved in a 2007 Missouri traffic crash had a 1 in 32 chance of being killed if they were not wearing a seat belt. However, when a driver wore their seat belt, their chance of being killed was only 1 in 1,329.

“Many drivers take the attitude that ‘it will never happen to me,’ but fatal crashes happen every day to all types of people,” said Leanna Depue, chair of the coalition’s executive committee. “So unless you want to risk a ticket, or worse – your life, please remember to Buckle Up and Arrive Alive.”

Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to reduce injuries and fatalities in a crash because it provides protection from being ejected and keeps motorists from smashing into windshields, dashboards and other passengers.

“Wearing your seat belt costs you nothing and not wearing it can cost you everything,” Depue said.

Nationally in 2006, 72 percent of passenger vehicle occupants involved in a fatal crash who were buckled up survived the crashes. When worn correctly, seat belts have proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent – and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs, and minivans. Yet, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly one in five Americans still fail to regularly wear their seat belts when driving or riding in a motor vehicle.

For more information on Missouri seat belt use, visit www.saveMOlives.com, and for more information on the national campaign, visit www.nhtsa.gov/link/ciot.htm.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sheryl Crow Encourages Missouri Teens to Buckle Up

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Sheryl Crow wants Missouri teens to Buckle Up and Arrive Alive.

A public service announcement featuring the nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and Missouri native talks about some of her best memories as a teenager, including basketball games, prom and hanging out with friends. Crow advises teens "Don't let your fun be cut short. Safety belts save lives. Make them a habit."

You can hear the spot, which has been sent to radio stations across Missouri, at http://www.savemoyouth.com/, as well as on YouTube at www.youtube.com/modotvideo.

Teens are an important audience for seat belt messages in Missouri. Recent surveys show only 61 percent of Missouri teenagers wear seat belts, a dramatic difference from Missouri's statewide seat belt usage rate of 77 percent and the national average of 82 percent. In 2006, 153 teen vehicle occupants were killed. Of those killed, 73 percent were not wearing their seat belt.

For more information regarding young drivers in Missouri, visit http://www.savemoyouth.com/.

Monday, April 28, 2008

MU Football Coach Gary Pinkel Promotes Motorcycle Safety Look. Learn. Arrive Alive.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- University of Missouri Head Football Coach Gary Pinkel will soon be seen on billboards and heard on the radio around the state promoting motorcycle safety. Sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, the "Look. Learn. Arrive Alive."

campaign begins in May, which is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Safety enthusiasts hope to drive home the message that all motorists need to share the road.

Motorcycles have a smaller profile on the road and may be more difficult for other vehicles to see. An astonishing 80 percent of Missouri motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, and 99 percent of the people who die in crashes involving a motorcycle on Missouri roads are the motorcyclist.

Paid radio advertising begins April 28 and runs into July. One radio spot features Coach Pinkel, an avid motorcycle rider. In the ad, Pinkel asks drivers to take another look and keep Missouri roads safe for everyone, "even Jayhawk fans."

Coach Pinkel is also featured on his motorcycle on posters and billboards throughout the state.
In addition to motorists looking out for those on motorcycles, motorcyclists are encouraged to do their part, making sure to ride with a DOT-approved helmet and wear protective clothing.

"It's important that everyone on Missouri roads look out for each other. With an increasing number of motorcyclists, we encourage drivers to have extra awareness and make sure everyone arrives alive," said Leanna Depue, chair of the executive committee of the Coalition.

For more information on the Look. Learn. Arrive Alive. campaign, including Coach Pinkel's radio spot and poster, visit http://www.savemolives.com/

Thursday, April 24, 2008

YouTube Video Shows How Dedicated Truck Lanes Could Work

JEFFERSON CITY – Separating trucks from cars on Interstate 70 sounds like a pretty good idea. But how would it work? A new video posted on YouTube explains what truck-only lanes could look like and how they might operate. You can find it at http://www.youtube.com/modotvideo.

"When we talk about dedicated truck lanes, we’re often asked how the concept works, especially how vehicles get on and off the highway," Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn said. "Because this is a new concept, it’s hard to visualize. The video helps people understand possible options."

MoDOT is studying truck-only lanes as a way to improve safety and reduce congestion during a future reconstruction and expansion of I-70. As truck traffic continues to increase, Missourians have asked MoDOT to consider separating cars and trucks on the interstate. New technologies have emerged that make that separation more feasible.

The study is also being undertaken because of Missouri's key role in the nationally designated "Corridors of the Future" program. By conducting this study now, MoDOT will be positioned to move quickly to address I-70's challenges - either by adding more general-use lanes or by building truck-only lanes - when design and construction funding becomes available. No funding is currently available for this project.

"YouTube helps us explain our work in a visual way," Rahn said. "People go to YouTube to see interesting videos, and we’re doing some very interesting things we want to show them."

Other MoDOT videos on YouTube show dramatic footage of the Route 19 Missouri River Bridge demolition, guard cable crash tests and an aerial view of ongoing construction of the new Interstate 64 in St. Louis. Another helps viewers understand the concept of a shared four-lane highway – a highway with additional passing lanes to ease congestion and improve safety.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

MoDOT Recognized for Protecting Mother Earth

JEFFERSON CITY – When you think of environmentally friendly practices, building roads and bridges might not pop into mind. Yet the Missouri Department of Transportation is winning awards for giving back to the environment. Consider this:

· MoDOT uses more ethanol and biodiesel fuel a year - three million gallons of E-85 and B20 - than all other state agencies combined. That’s enough gas to drive a car to Mars and back.

· In 2007, MoDOT used more than three million tons of asphalt containing recycled material – about the weight of all the people in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Tennessee combined.

· In the past four years, the agency has kept more than 3.6 billion pounds of waste from going to landfills. That’s equivalent to the amount of household waste generated in a year by the entire metropolitan St. Louis area.

· MoDOT has used enough recycled tires in its construction projects over the past two years to equip 20,000 cars.

These efforts have won the agency several awards. On May 13, the Missouri Recycling Association will recognize MoDOT for its outstanding use of recycled material. PR News, a publication that serves the public relations industry, recently recognized MoDOT as an overall leader in corporate social responsibility, along with such prominent organizations as Entergy Corporation, Yahoo! Southeast Asia and Pacific Gas and Electric Company. In December 2007, the Missouri State Recycling Program recognized MoDOT’s environmental contributions with its annual state Recycling Award.

“We work hard to be everyday environmentalists,” MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said. “We diligently track the impact we have on the environment and measure the steps we’re taking to protect or restore our natural resources.”

For example, Rahn said, MoDOT keeps sensitive species and habitats in mind when designing projects. In 2007, the agency completed 15 projects that required additional work to safeguard nine protected species. MoDOT also replaced wetlands at a rate of three acres to one on projects built in 2007.

Under the Trees for Tomorrow program, MoDOT and its partner, the Missouri Department of Conservation, is providing half a million trees a year to youth groups throughout the state through 2012. The program helps replace trees taken down during highway construction.
“We’re also testing several other green initiatives,” Rahn said. “We’re seeing how soy-based paint works for highway striping and using an anti-icing agent made from sugar beets to help cut down on the amount of salt we use in the winter.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

MoDOT Inspects 2,500 Bridges After Earthquake

Since this morning's earthquake, Missouri Department of Transportation bridge inspectors have been out in force examining all state bridges in the eastern part of the state that may have been affected. So far, no damage has been found.

Inspectors are examining about 2,500 bridges located in the eastern third of the state. Major river crossings are the top priority, followed by bridges on major highways, and then the bridges on minor routes. All inspections will be complete by the end of the day.

"Our top priority today is making sure all our bridges are safe," said State Bridge Maintenance Engineer Scott Stotlemeyer. "We've got hundreds of people checking bridges today. If we find any damage we'll deal with it right away, and we won't hesitate to close a bridge."

As of 10 a.m., about 1,400 inspections are complete, with no damage found. Completed inspections include all of the nearly 1,000 bridges in the St. Louis area.

In addition to the eastern part of the state, MoDOT will also examine Missouri River crossings today at Hermann, Jefferson City, Boonville, Rocheport, Miami and Glasgow.

Inspectors are looking for any signs of damage, including cracks or buckling in the bridge deck, loose pavement, bent beams or girders, missing bolts, or misalignment of curbs or rails. If potential problems are found, bridge engineers will be called in for a more thorough examination, and the bridge will be closed if necessary.

Editor's note: Click here for a sheet MoDOT workers are using that spells out exactly what they're looking for in bridge inspections. MoDOT will issue updates throughout the day with progress and results of the inspections. For additional information, click here for MoDOT's earthquake inspection web page.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

MoDOT Offers New Airport Directory And Travel Guide

JEFFERSON CITY - The 2008-2009 Missouri Airport Directory and Travel Guide produced by the Missouri Department of Transportation is now available to the public. The directory is a flight-planning tool that provides facility information to pilots and users of Missouri's public-use airports.

This new directory has five-inch square aerial photos of each airport with expanded facility information such as runway length, communication frequencies, lighting and navigational aids, and fuel availability. The directory also includes a section highlighting local restaurants and attractions near each airport. An addition to the new directory is a limited list of Missouri's private airports.

The directory is provided free-of-charge. Funding for this and all state aviation programs comes from aviation fuel taxes and not from general revenue or highway funds.

Directories are available at most local airports in Missouri, by contacting MoDOT's customer service center toll-free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636) or by writing to MoDOT's Aviation Unit, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO 65102. The directory can be viewed on MoDOT's Web site at http://www.modot.mo.gov/othertransportation/aviation/airportdirectory.htm

Legislature Honors MoDOT Crews

"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

Add ice and floods and this motto - most often attributed to the U.S. Postal Service - summarizes what Missouri Department of Transportation highway crews have been up against for the past five months.

The Missouri House of Representatives recently honored MoDOT maintenance crews with a House resolution thanking them for keeping Missouri highways clear and safe. Reps. David Pearce, Charlie Schlottach and Tom Loehner sponsored the resolution. In addition, Sen. John Griesheimer praised MoDOT workers on the Senate floor for their efforts to keep roads open during the floods.

Most recently road crews have been busy scouting flood conditions, closing overflowing roads and sandbagging low-lying areas to keep water off of roadways. During the winter, MoDOT maintenance staff used enough salt - 320,000 tons - to fill Mizzou arena in Columbia in their battle to keep state highways clear of ice and snow. Maintenance crews put in approximately 550,000 working hours, including 215,000 hours of overtime, keeping Missouri roads clear.
"To make things even more challenging, many of the weather emergencies hit on a weekend or holiday," MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said. "Our crews barely had a breather between winter's ice and snow and the spring flooding. We've had to ask a lot of our employees these past several months, and like the Post Office they've delivered.

"We all can use a pat on the back now and again," Rahn said. "We thank the legislature for recognizing the efforts of our great crews."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dedicated truck lanes for I-70?

The idea of separating trucks from other vehicles on interstates and highways is gaining national attention. Currently, there are no dedicated U.S. highways for trucks, but some states, like Georgia, have created lanes dedicated for trucks. In addition, many states, including Missouri, are studying the need for truck-only lanes and the possibility of enhanced safety and improved overall traffic flow. However, the concept is a costly one. What do you think about separate traffic lanes dedicated solely for trucks on Interstate 70?

For more information on dedicated I-70 truck lanes visit http://www.improvei70.com/

video

78 Percent of Missouri's Major Roads in Good Condition

JEFFERSON CITY - Three years of record road construction throughout Missouri have brought 78 percent of the state's major roads up to good condition, according to new figures released by the Missouri Department of Transportation. That's a sizable jump from three years ago when only 46 percent were in good condition.

Major roads include the interstates and heavily traveled U.S. routes such as 63, 60 and 36.
More than 100 million miles a day are driven on the 5,573 miles of major roads in Missouri. They carry 80 percent of all traffic, and 95 percent of Missourians live within 10 miles of one of these roads.

MoDOT's Smooth Roads Initiative, which improved 2,200 miles of the state's busiest highways in 2005 and 2006, accounts for much of the improved road conditions. Constitutional Amendment 3, passed by voters in November 2004, funded that initiative.

Additional progress is being made through MoDOT's Better Roads, Brighter Future Program, which took up where the Smooth Roads Initiative left off. Under the Better Roads program, the remainder of the state's major highways are getting smoother surfaces, wider stripes, brighter signs and paved shoulders.

"We're proud of the progress we've made with the resources Missourians have given us," MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said. "When our Better Roads, Brighter Future program is finished at the end of 2011, 85 percent of our major roads will be in good condition. What's more important is that good roads mean safer traveling."

Missouri's road improvements have drawn national attention. A study conducted by The Pew Center on the States, a national public policy organization, stated, "Most states have seen their infrastructure and transportation problems get worse over the past few years; Missouri is one of the few that has managed to improve."

However, Rahn continued to drive home the message that the good times won't last forever.
"In 2010, funding for transportation will fall off a cliff," he said. "We'll return to funding levels similar to those before Amendment 3. This level of investment was inadequate then and will be dramatically more inadequate in 2010."

Rahn said Missouri citizens must ultimately decide if they're willing to increase funding for the state's transportation system and where to get the additional funding.

Editor's note: Here's a breakdown of road condition improvements by region:
Northwest - Conditions of major roads in this area, which include I-29, I-229 and I-35 and Routes 71, 36, 59 and 136, have increased from 54.1 percent in good condition in 2004 to 79.9 percent in good condition in 2007.

North Central - Conditions of major roads in this area, which include Routes 36, 24, 65 and 63, have increased from 46.8 percent in good condition in 2004 to 62 percent in good condition in 2007.

Northeast - Conditions of major roads in this area, which include Routes 36, 24, 54, and 61, have increased from 56.9 percent in good condition in 2004 to 80 percent in good condition in 2007.
Kansas City Area - Conditions of major roads in this area, which include Interstates 70, 435, 29 and 35 and Routes 50, 7 and 71, have increased from 53.3 percent in good condition in 2004 to 76.3 percent in good condition in 2007.

Central - Conditions of major roads in this area, which include Interstate 70 and Routes 63, 54, 50 and 65, have increased from 40.2 percent in good condition in 2004 to 74.6 percent in good condition in 2007.

St. Louis Area - Conditions of major roads in this area, which include Interstates 70, 64/40, 44, 270, 55, 170 and Routes 30, 21 and Page Avenue, have increased from 53.6 percent in good condition in 2004 to 83.5 percent in good condition in 2007.

Southwest - Conditions of major roads in this area, which include Interstate 44 and Routes 71, 60, 54 and 37, have increased from 52 percent in good condition in 2004 to 95.8 percent in good condition in 2007.

Springfield Area - Conditions of major roads in this area, which include Interstate 44 and Routes 60, 65 and 13, have increased from 58.1 percent in good condition in 2004 to 84.6 percent in good condition in 2007.

South Central - Conditions of major roads in this area, which include Interstate 44 and Routes 60, 63, 72 and 8, have increased from 58.9 percent in good condition in 2004 to 74.3 percent in good condition in 2007.Southeast - Conditions of major roads in this area, which include Interstate 55 and Routes 60, 67, 72, 53 and 412, have increased from 26.5 percent in good condition in 2004 to 73 percent in good condition in 2007.