Friday, July 31, 2009

Mock Crash Opens Eyes

For emergency service personnel, the scene was all too real.

Smashed cars. Cracked windshields. Life-threatening injuries. A fatality. A drunk driver. Angry, grieving passengers.

Luckily, this time it wasn’t real. It was part of a mock DWI crash held last week in Columbia. The exercise was part of a three-day conference to help prevent drug- and alcohol-related accidents sponsored by Team Spirit.

Students from 11 Missouri high schools saw first hand why it’s a bad idea to drink and drive. Students witnessed a simulated head-on collision where the driver was impaired and one person dies. Last year, 951 underage drivers were involved in alcohol-related traffic crashes in Missouri.

At the end of the mock crash, the students were silent as the scene was recapped.

“It only takes that one lapse to create results like that,” said the narrator.

When asked how many people think a crash like this would affect their school, all hands were raised.

Watch the video below.
video

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Where are the Bullet Trains?

Progress continues toward high-speed rail development in Missouri. While the bullet trains are not coming anytime soon, significant improvements could occur if the Federal Railroad Administration approves MoDOT's application for $200 million in economic recovery funding. Competition for the limited $8 billion in available funding will be strong, considering the $103 billion in applications submitted by 40 states.

However, MoDOT, in partnership with Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak, has developed a very good list of proposed improvements. These projects will not only put people to work quickly, they will remove significant system bottlenecks and allow for increased train speeds. MoDOT has also been working with other Midwest states to acquire modern and efficient train equipment to replace the current 1960's-era trains.

Construction work on Missouri's first-ever publicly funded rail capacity project is on schedule for completion in 2009. This new 9,000-foot passing rail siding near California will eliminate a 25-mile section with no siding long enough to hold a freight train. This area has been a major bottleneck in the past.

Passenger ridership in Missouri remains strong, closing the state fiscal year 10 percent above last year. This is largely due to improved on-time performance, which has been above 95 percent since January 1st. People are running out of excuses for not using this service. What are you waiting for!? Go to www.morail.org and get aboard!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Football Fans, Buckle Up!

With school right around the corner, football teams are gearing up for their next season and fans are ready. No matter what jersey you choose, make sure a seat belt is wrapped securely around it when you're headed to the game.
And if your team is up against a 64-foot player, good luck!

Monday, July 27, 2009

MoDOT Opens Nation’s First Diverging Diamond Interchange

Ever drive on the left side of the road? A highway design common in Europe is now giving Springfield, Mo. motorists this unique experience.

MoDOT opened the first-in-the-USA Diverging Diamond Interchange in June at the intersection of Kansas Expressway (Route 13) and Interstate 44 in Springfield.

Signs, pavement markings and concrete islands at the new interchange guide drivers on Route 13 as they criss-cross at traffic signals on both sides of the bridge at Interstate 44. That puts oncoming traffic on the right, but separated by concrete barriers that also form a pedestrian walkway down the center.

Left-turning vehicles on Kansas Expressway get a "free left" onto the I-44 on-ramps. At the same time, two lanes of traffic continuing north or south on Kansas Expressway are able to travel more steadily through the interchange.

A DDI is a great solution in high traffic areas. Motorists no longer have to cross opposing traffic. Left turn crashes are eliminated and the chance of being in a rear end crash is reduced. Motorists spend less time being stuck in traffic, which is also good for the environment as idle time is reduced at the interchange. Plus, Springfield’s DDI design came out to be cheaper and shaved about a year-and-a-half off the construction time.

Look for similar Diverging Diamond projects in Missouri, including one on National Avenue at the James River Freeway (Route 60) in Springfield and in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Keep Your Butts in the Car

The other day I was driving home from work, when I saw the guy in front of me flick a cigarette butt out his truck window. So since The Litterer couldn’t actually hear me from my car, I honked at him. I guess I just wanted him to know someone was watching.

Littering is one of my biggest pet peeves. And many people don’t consider throwing out their cigarette butts as littering. Do people think that once the cigarette butt hits the road, it magically disappears? It’s really just like throwing a bag of garbage out the window. Cigarette filters can take years to degrade. And according to my online research, cigarettes are the most littered item with several trillion butts being littered worldwide every year.

I have picked up litter many times, as part of my Adopt-A-Highway group, and I’ll tell you, it’s not fun. But because people still litter, someone has get out there and clean it up. MoDOT already spends about $5 million a year to clean up litter off the roads, and our AAH groups contribute another $1 million in efforts. Although there are many different items that people throw out of their vehicles, cigarette butts are the things I see the most. Not only are they ugly and smelly, but the toxic residue in cigarette filters is damaging to the environment, and littered butts cause numerous fires every year, some of them fatal.

So what can we do? MoDOT is always accepting new volunteers in our Adopt-A-Highway or Sponsor-A-Highway programs. Just go to www.modot.org/ or call 888-ASK MODOT to join. Butt, if you happen to see someone flicking their butt out their car window, honk and let folks know you’re watching too.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Bright Idea

You pay attention to those bright yellow signs on the road, right? At least the ones telling you about the possibility of a giant rock falling on your car?

Now those signs warning you about a sharp curve, narrow bridge or dead end up ahead will be even brighter.

MoDOT has changed the type of sheeting it uses on the diamond-shaped warning signs to a fluorescent yellow - bolder and brighter than before. So even if you're driving along singing with your favorite radio station, these signs should grab your attention.

They won't all go up at once. As a current sign is in need of replacement, the brighter one will be used. But as someone who has been known to host my own off-key live concert in my car, I appreciate all the help I can get.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

MoDOT Web site lets citizens report potholes and more

See a pothole on a state road? Tell us about it!

With MoDOT’s Report a Road Concern online form, you can help your department of transportation keep Missouri roads safe and smooth.

Linked from the MoDOT homepage at www.modot.org, Report a Road Concern lets citizens contact the department about a variety of road-related issues. Look for the link on the right-hand side of the homepage.

Existing report categories include: mowing, striping, signs, potholes, signal problems, highway lighting, guardrail/guard cable issues, illegal dumping on the highway and non-stormwater discharge into a drainage ditch. There is also a blank comment field in case the problem being reported is not on the existing list.

Travelers are our most valuable resource for information. They’re the ones using our highways and bridges every day. They know if something is not right immediately. This online form is another way they can communicate with MoDOT.


You can go directly to the Report a Road Concern here: http://www.modot.org/asp/repair.htm .

Monday, July 13, 2009

All-Star FanFest 2009

Baseball greats will soon infiltrate Missouri for the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star game. St. Louis will host the event for the first time since 1966, the inaugural season of the previous Busch Stadium.

MoDOT teamed up with the Illinois Department of Transportation and TEAM (Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management) Coalition to promote the importance of designating a sober driver and always buckling up at All-Star FanFest July 10-14.

FanFest features interactive exhibits and attractions for baseball enthusiasts of all ages. Fans can hit against some of the MLB’s best pitchers in the video batting cages, record their own play-by-play and attend free autograph sessions with baseball’s biggest stars.

The MoDOT booth encouraged fans to film a video or take the pledge to follow MLB’s Fan Code of Conduct, never drive impaired, always have a designated driver, and to buckle up and arrive alive. Fans also took souvenir photos in the replica Busch Stadium Cardinals dugout.

Check out the video from our FanFest booth below. You can also check out a number of the Fan Videos that were submitted during FanFest here.

If you are attending the All-Star Game events or watching at a sports bar or restaurant:

  • Be a designated sober driver or designate your sober driver before the game begins

  • Give your designated sober driver your car keys and your appreciation for making sure you get home safely

  • Before you go out, program the numbers for local cab companies in your cell phone, so if you find yourself in need of a ride, it is just one touch away

  • Remember, always buckle up and arrive alive.

    video

Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet? We could be. Learn more about why we need to invest more in transportation.

Speedy Bridge Projects


Wow. MoDOT contractors have been completing and reopening bridges around the state every day-and-a-half since late April.

On Friday, Chester Bross Construction Co. completed the 50th bridge project in MoDOT's Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program -- the Route BB bridge over Island Creek in Gentry County, near King City.

Speed of construction is a key feature of the Safe & Sound program, and so far so good. The average bridge closure to date has been 40 days and the projects have been completed an average of three days ahead of schedule.

By the end of this year, more than 100 new bridges will have been completed on the way to the program's total of 802 by Oct. 31, 2014.

Soon, KTU Constructors will determine its schedule for the most ambitious part of Safe & Sound -- the complete replacement of 554 bridges.

Stay tuned.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Getting Ready to Race

When the gun is fired Sept. 7 in St. Louis, the third annual Tour of Missouri will begin -- moving along more than 600 miles of Missouri's roads before ending in Kansas City Sept. 13. As the MoDOT Tour of Missouri project coordinator, I'm teaming up with a variety of highway and traffic experts and public information co-workers around the state to take care of our two primary responsibilities.

First, we've worked with other partners to identify a race route that's safe and attractive for both the professional cyclists and those who will watch along the roads. We consider things like work zones, traffic hazards and construction projects. Most of the course is planned on low-volume, rural routes where hills and curves offer the American and foreign atheltes the challenges they like.

Second, we make sure the traveling public will be informed of the traffic interuptions throughout the seven-day event by coordinating traffic management plans with local communities and law enforcement agencies. We make plans to get the word out so those that want to avoid traffic delays can do so.

We also helped the Missouri Tourism Division by creating host city signs. These signs are being put up on the current city limit sign posts along key routes leading in and out of the communities that will be hosting a race start or finish.

We’ve worked hard to help make this a successful event for our state, and as the race goes along, safety for the traveling public and the cyclists is our main concern.

We're proud the national and international race coverage will highlight our state and that Missouri’s highways will be on display throughout the world!

You'll find race information, race route details and photographs at http://www.tourofmissouri.com/ and http://www.modot.org/.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Starts With a Bang, Ends With a Whimper

Suppose your boss surprises you one day with an unexpected one-time bonus. You decide to use the money to build that new patio you always wanted for your house. Because you’ve planned for that patio for some time and have carefully researched prices, you end up getting a good deal. The money you save on the patio lets you do some repairs and other odd jobs around your house.

But suppose looming in the future is the likelihood your income will decline to almost a third of the current amount. You’ll be lucky to keep what you own, much less buy anything new.

That’s how it is with the Missouri Department of Transportation’s five-year highway construction program. As MoDOT Director Pete Rahn puts it, “It’s a lot like when someone comes to you and says, ‘Do you want the good news or the bad news. That’s how it is with our construction program. We’re going to be able to do a lot of great things at the beginning, but we won’t be able to maintain that momentum.”

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Boom!

Did you know Missouri has more major river bridges than any state in the nation? Replacing large bridges is an extensive and costly process, and the old structures go out with a bang.

Enjoy this explosive video as a complement to the fireworks you see this weekend. Have a safe and happy 4th of July!