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.


Anonymous said...

"No frills" is one way of describing MODOT's work. Another would be "ignoring the needs of people who walk or bicycle" by eliminating shoulders or sidewalks. It would be great if MODOT would show the same concern for pedestrians and cyclists as it does for construction workers.

Brian said...

This program sounds good, but very vague. I'd like to know an example of what specifically is "customized". Is it the type of pavement? Traffic flow? Lights? Speed limits? Days on which to work? Please tell us more.

Dave P said...

Customized means that the pavement width and shoulder widths needed for an intercity route may not be appropriate for a rural highway and vice versa. By completing a design that is appropriate for the usage, volume, speed and location MoDOT can save considerable amounts of money.

MoDOT assists paying for bike and hiking trails. If they did not have to blow money in areas like that, maybe they could afford to build wider shoulders on the highways. But when the State and Fed goverments dictate where portions of the MoDOT money go...

It's time for people such as
"anonymous" to wake up and realize that MoDOT, contrary to the picture painted in our liberal media, is NOT an all powerful state agency with an unlimited budget. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that the budget is being cut in HALF next year for MoDOT. In the face of the fact that asphalt prices have more than doubled in the last year...how do YOU propose that MoDOT continue to maintain existing highways AND widen/construct new shoulders?

Lastly - everyone needs to remember that these highways were built in a different era. Back even in the 70's when the interstates were mostly completed...there was little to no focus on pedestrains or bicycles. Driving was the American dream, and most people that wanted to walk did so in parks. Thus the highways were built to accomodate CARS. Now in the face of a changing world, MoDOT has to go back and try to redesign highways that were never intended to A)carry the traffic load they carry today and B) never intended to carry bicycles and pedestrian traffic.

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