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 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
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

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

"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 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