Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thank you, Missouri!

Missourians created jobs and saved lives when they approved Amendment 3 in November 2004. The constitutional change ended the diversion of some highway user fees to certain state agencies and redirected them to road and bridge projects.

We reached a milestone on Oct. 28 when we sold the last of the Amendment 3 bonds. This helped us leverage the additional funding and deliver 2,200 miles of smoother highways, 55 projects that were years down the road and 97 brand new projects that before were only a gleam in our eye. As a result, 83 percent of our major roads are in good condition today and traffic fatalities have decreased 24 percent since 2005.

Missouri voters deserve a big pat on the back and our thanks for investing in their highway system.

A Blast in Miami

If you talk about having a blast in Miami, chances are your audience is assuming you spent some time cruising South Beach.

Not the case for those who watched the first phase of demolition on the Miami River bridge in Missouri yesterday. Those Chariton county residents watched the excitement closer to home.

Dorothy Clements, a Miami resident, was there to watch the bridge dedication in 1939 and also there yesterday to watch the demolition. View the video below to hear her thoughts.

When the new structure is complete next fall, only the piers will remain from the original structure.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Making a Difference

Jim Feeney turned extra steps into extra miles last week, walking to raise awareness about work zone safety for his fellow MoDOT co-workers.

Feeney, a maintenance crew leader in the St. Louis area, walked 87.2 miles along the Katy Trail from Weldon Spring to Jefferson City to pay tribute to fellow workers who have been killed in the line of duty and to encourage support for a memorial honoring fallen MoDOT employees.

Feeney's wife, Theo, walked with him and was not surprised at all when her husband proposed the idea.

"That's Jim," said Theo. "This is normal because he likes to make a difference."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween Hints

Halloween is a bittersweet time for me. My kids are too old to trick-or-treat, and I’m too old to celebrate, but I still have great memories of this hallowed tradition. I can recall my one-year-old daughter in her first costume - a pumpkin outfit - and watching the neighbor kids grow bigger and taller each year they rang our doorbell. I can think of my son announcing he was too big to hold hands and could go to the door by himself to get his treats. Mostly, I remember breathing a sigh of relief when the evening was over and everyone was home safe and sound.

That’s because while Halloween is a fun fall tradition, it’s also one of the deadliest nights of the year – largely due to impaired driving. This year, Halloween falls on a Saturday, making it an even bigger occasion to party. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 58 percent of all highway fatalities last Halloween involved an impaired driver. In Missouri, eight people were killed and 51 seriously injured in traffic crashes during last year’s Halloween weekend. Of the eight people killed, 50 percent involved an impaired driver and 57 percent were unbuckled.

So, while I know I’m going to sound like a preachy old mom, please keep these tips in mind if you’re thinking about celebrating this Halloween:
· Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
· Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.
· If you’re impaired, take a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
· If you suspect a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement.
· Always buckle up. It’s your best defense in a crash.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

MoDOT Receives Two Governor’s Quality and Productivity Awards

Gov. Jay Nixon’s office gave MoDOT a big pat on the back last week. The department was honored with two Governor’s Awards for Quality and Productivity in the areas of customer service and technology. These annual awards go to state departments that demonstrate achievement in customer service, efficiency, innovation, process improvement or technology in government.

The customer service award recognized the popular online Traveler Information Map, which shows road conditions, work zones, incidents and flooding information. More than 1.5 million people have turned to map for travel information since it was launched.

The second award honored MoDOT’s revolutionary online method for increasing public participation on projects. With help from HNT!B, a transportation contractor, MoDOT launched the first virtual public meeting. These online meetings allow people to comment on plans and projects from the comfort of their own home and at the time that suits them best. As result, public comments on projects increased tenfold.

MoDOT is honored to receive these awards. Now we just have to figure out how to top them for next year!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Observations from the Field

I’ve been watching you – and what I see is good!

Hubby and I were on the road again – 465 rainy Missouri miles on Tuesday alone. That gave me a lot of time to watch how car, truck and commercial truck drivers behave.

I saw that most Missourians are safe travelers. Almost 8 out of 10 buckle up – that’s the best defense we’ve got against serious injury or death if a crash were to happen. And most people share the road quite nicely.

Because vehicles on our highways range from bicycles to specially permitted high and wide load commercial trucks, safe travel is a matter of mutual respect. It appears that in at least one safety measure, Missourians are doing a great job: between 2006 and 2008, the number of commercial motor vehicle crashes that resulted in fatalities fell 19 percent.

I do my best to concentrate on driving so everyone can Arrive Alive, but I know I slip up from time to time. The last thing I want to do is distract another driver from the driving task, so I like the reminders the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety put out this week for Operation Safe Driver Week, Oct. 18-24, 2009. During the week, law enforcement agencies turn a keen eye toward the driving behavior of passenger cars and commercial trucks.

For passenger vehicle drivers, several tips can improve your safety when driving near commercial trucks or buses:
· Focus on driving. Texting, phone calls, eating and other distractions take your attention away from safe operation of your vehicle.
· After passing a truck, wait until you can see both of its headlights in your rearview mirror before pulling into the same lane.
· Keep a safety cushion around trucks. Can you see the truck’s side mirrors? If not, the driver cannot see you. Leave at least a 20-car-length gap when driving behind a truck.
· Never linger alongside a truck and risk “disappearing” from their vision due to blind spots.
· Obey speed limits and traffic signs.

It is also important for truck drivers to remember to:
· Pre-inspect the condition of your vehicle before travel and make sure your load is secure.
· Maximize the vision around your truck with properly adjusted mirrors; be sure mirrors are properly set and clean.
· Focus on driving, not distractions.Obey speed limits and traffic signs. Excessive speed reduces your ability to avoid a crash, extends your vehicle’s stopping distance, and increases the severity of a crash when it occurs.

As impressed as I am with Missourians' driving, I'm tired! I think we'll stick close to home this weekend...but there are some really great fall festivals and Oktoberfests and...

Glasgow Bridge Complete!

Today, Glasgow residents and those in surrounding communities will celebrate having their bridge again!
Only a year ago, the Glasgow Bridge in north central Missouri was one of the worst major river bridges in the state.

An innovative partial replacement solution has since improved the bridge, and a ceremony kicks off this afternoon where the residents celebrate!

The existing deck and steelwork was removed from the supporting piers, then replaced with a plate girder bridge to produce a new driving surface, extending the life of this important bridge for up to 50 years. Check out more photos and details!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

For Sale!

One thing I learned this summer - the selling of a home and purchase of another home is a fascinating (and exhausting!) process.

I really still don't know how all of the details came together or the pieces fell in place, but the end result is a home that better fits the needs of my family. A happy ending.

MoDOT is selling off property it no longer needs, and an upcoming blitz of activity is planned to sell 23 highly marketable parcels of land and put the money straight into needed road and bridge projects.

The blitz runs the week of Nov. 16-20. Thinking of getting in the market for development or wanting a buffer around land you already own? Check out our Realty to Roads page to see what might fit your needs.

You just might find your own happy ending in the real estate world. And with the money going to needed projects around Missouri, everyone in the state can do the same.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Great Return!

Missouri's ports are a great return on investment.

MoDOT's Waterway Section is administering $16 million in grant funding for 20 different projects at public ports throughout Missouri. Everything from a rail spur, truck scale, access roads, dock repairs, mooring dolphins, storage, and utility extension is included.

These investments are generating economic activity in the private sector. The best example is at the New Madrid County Port Authority, where MoDOT provided $3 million in state and federal grants to improve truck access, bring in a rail spur, and increase storage capacity. These investments, along with working with port staff, helped land two new business that are right now investing more than $50 million in private investment in this port.

Even in this challenging economic climate, Missouri ports have increased tonnage handled, jobs created, and private investment. Plus, we all get the environmental benefits offered by waterway transportation, where one barge holds as much as 15 rail cars and 60 trucks.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

MoDOT Through the Looking Glass

MoDOT has a bunch of good-lookin’ employees. Who wouldn’t want to catch a peek of ‘em in the truck mirrors?

That’s what I thought after learning that MoDOT’s Northeast District added bright orange stickers to the back of bright yellow dump trucks. The message on the stickers is familiar to those who drive around 18-wheel trucks: If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.

It turns out that the district’s safety and health committee recommended the message. Concern about incidents when dump truck drivers backed into vehicles behind them – vehicles the dump truck driver could not see – prompted the team’s action. Since commercial trucks have the same blind spot, the team thought, we could try using one of their safety tactics.

It will be a few months – April 2010, to be exact – before the pilot program wraps up, but the district already notes a decrease in the number of backing incidents. It’s possible the stickers will spread statewide.

Big thanks to the big trucks for inspiring an effective, inexpensive safety tool.

And keep those glances in the mirror quick. MoDOT folks will try to temper our beauty so we’re not too distracting!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Why Isn't It Clicking with Missourians?

I buckle up every single time I get in a vehicle, and everyone riding with me does as well. But unfortunately according to our latest statewide survey results - nearly one in four Missouri motorists still don’t buckle up. With 77% seat belt use, Missouri is seven percent less than the national average of 84 percent. The bottom line of these statistics means that people who otherwise would probably be arriving home safely are dying on our roads.

In 2008, 489 people out of the 960 killed in Missouri traffic crashes weren’t wearing a seat belt. If you do the math, that’s more than half. It’s common sense to wear one – and yet some people still don’t.

So why aren't we measuring up to other states? We don't have a primary seat belt law is one reason. Research from other states shows that passing a primary seat belt law raises the usage rate and reduces fatalities and injuries. By law, we all have to wear our seat belt anyway, but making it a primary law allows our law enforcement to actually enforce it. It’s a simple change that costs us nothing but could gain us everything.

Some groups in our state are at even more risk from lower seat belt usage – teens only buckle up 62% of the time and motorists in the 10-county area near Joplin and Springfield only buckle up 66% of the time. We’re doing what we can to educate these folks with the Get Your Buckle On campaign that targets teens and tries to get more of them to buckle up, while a new Click It or Ticket campaign in the southwest area has local law enforcement officers cracking down on motorists who aren’t wearing seat belts.

Until we get a primary seat belt law, we’ll have to do our best to educate everybody about the importance of buckling up. Please help us. Visit saveMOlives and send your friends a postcard ( reminding them to buckle up. For more information, visit Buckle Up and Arrive Alive!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gnome says, "Get Your Buckle On."

A gnome costume inspired 19-year-old Cole Hieronymus's winning Get Your Buckle On video. The video contest, sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, encouraged people to submit seat belt videos to to encourage teens to buckle up.

"We wanted to jolt our peers' mind to wake up out of zombie routine every day and actually put their seat belt on," said Hieronymus of St. Louis.

The winning video will be promoted during the October teen seat belt campaign running Oct. 5-25. The second round of the teen seat belt video competition will begin Oct. 1. The video contest will be featured in the October advertising campaign sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety.

Watch the video below.