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.”