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,

Editor’s note: Taped comments on this subject from MoDOT Director Pete Rahn can be found on MoDOT’s Web site at


Anonymous said...

in work area on major have a sign posted USE FLASHES IN WORK ZONES- this will help prevent trucks and cars in rear end collisons

Anonymous said...

Can you please do a post explaining the differences between a highway and an interstate, such as hwy 71 going to I49.

Anonymous said...

Highways typically have at-grade intersections such as cross-overs and rarely signals. Railroads can cross at-grade as well. They may only be 2 lanes, typically have speed limits between 55 and 65 and in general they are not as "big" and "wide" as interstates. They are meant to carry locally, as in between two cities in the same state (Rolla to Jeff City, Columbia to Moberly, etc)

Interstates are built to a stricter standard - traffic can only enter and exit at certain points. Higher speeds are allowed, they are always at least 4 lanes and are much straighter. They are designed traffic to move at high speeds between states, rather than carrying local traffic (California to Texas, Maryland to Indiana, etc). This is pretty much just have I have seen and experienced from driving interstates and highways for many years. Someone from MoDOT can feel free to correct me.

Matt Hiebert, MoDOT Web Manager said...

In response to the Dec. 4 question on the difference between an Interstate and a highway:

The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly called the Interstate Highway System, is a network of limited-access highways (also called freeways or expressways) in the United States that is named for the President who championed its creation. The Interstate Highway System is a subsystem of the National Highway System. The entire system, as of 2004, has a total length of 46,837 miles, making it both the largest highway system in the world and the largest public works project in history. While Interstate Highways usually receive substantial federal funding (90% federal and 10% state) and comply with federal standards, they are owned, built, and operated by the states or toll authorities.

A highway is a main road intended for travel by the public between important destinations, such as cities and towns. Highway designs vary widely and can range from a two-lane road without margins to a multi-lane, grade separated freeway.