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.