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.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Save Gas, Time with MoDOT's New Construction Map

Want to save gas? Want to save time? Want to save yourself some aggravation when you're stuck in traffic in a highway work zone?

The Missouri Department of Transportation's new 2008 Statewide Construction Map can help with all of that. The full-color, 17-by-22-inch map details nearly 180 major construction sites across the state.

Although not a complete listing of all MoDOT construction projects, the map features descriptions of various projects that may affect traffic across the state this year. The map is useful for over-the-road truck drivers, visitors planning a trip across Missouri highways and Missouri citizens who want to learn more about roadwork on their routes.

"This map is a great way to find out in advance where you may run into traffic backups," said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. "It may help you avoid work zones, and get to your destination more quickly. If you can't avoid them, the map will let you know to build in extra time and drive carefully."

Up-to-the-minute work zone information can be found on MoDOT's Web site at http://www.modot.org/

Copies of the 2008 Statewide Construction Map are available at tourist information centers, rest areas, and at each of the department's 10 district offices. Request a copy by calling MoDOT's customer service center toll-free at 1-888-ASK MODOT (275-6636), or send an e-mail request to: comments@modot.mo.gov.