Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nobody Likes a Pothole

It will soon be that time of year; the snow will begin to melt, temperatures will begin to warm up and before you know it we’ll hear the first sounds of spring…our tires falling into potholes. Potholes are annoying – period.

Potholes occur because of expansion and contraction of water under the pavement. This expansion causes pavement to bend and crack, leaving gaps or voids. When cars drive over these gaps, the pavement collapses and pieces of roadway are kicked out, creating a pothole. The more freeze-thaw cycles an area has (like most of Missouri), the more potholes you will see.

Roads with high traffic volumes have more potholes due to amount of use. Bridges and ramps, which receive more salt and snow removal chemicals in the winter, also are more prone to potholes. Older roads tend to have more, as you’ve probably noticed.

Our Maintenance crews try to get out and patch potholes for safety reasons, as soon as the weather allows. Repairing potholes during inclement weather, or when an immediate repair is needed to maintain safety, means using cold patch asphalt until a more permanent repair can be performed. These patches are quick to do, but only temporary.

When the weather warms up, hot asphalt patching of potholes begins. These patches usually take more time to fix, depending on size and location, but will last considerably longer.

The long-term solution to potholes is to reconstruct the pavement, but this is also the most expensive option that takes the most amount of time.

If you notice a pothole on a state route, try using MoDOT’s online form to let us know. So even though we all agree potholes are annoying, please be patient as our crews work hard to patch them as quickly and safely as possible.

For a better look at how roads deteriorate over time, view the Life Cycle of a Highway video:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

MoDOT's Environmental and Historical Preservation Section Launches New Web Site

Many people don’t know it but MoDOT’s responsibilities go beyond building roads and bridges. The department must also be a vigilant steward of Missouri’s environment and historical culture.

Because of the nature of its work, MoDOT encounters many opportunities to preserve and protect elements of Missouri’s culture and natural resources. In fact we have an entire division dedicated to these tasks.

The group is called the Environment Studies and Historic Preservation section and it is dedicated to protecting the things that give Missouri its identity.

Recently the section launched a new Web site to inform the public of what it does and how it does it.

On the site, visitors can learn about how MoDOT studies and addresses air quality, community impacts of projects, endangered species, Missouri archaeology, historic bridge preservation, and noise pollution.

To learn more about MoDOT’s Environmental Studies and Historic Preservation section, go to

Friday, February 19, 2010

Our Primary Goal

One of the top strategies for reducing fatalities and injuries on Missouri roads is strengthening Missouri's seat belt law to allow for primary enforcement. Getting this law passed in our state will save lives, reduce injuries and save our state a lot of money. To me, it’s truly a no-brainer, but there are still people who don’t understand why we need a primary law.

Seven out of 10 Missourians killed in 2008 Missouri traffic crashes were unbuckled. Of those not killed or injured, 97 percent were wearing their seat belt at the time of the accident. And although our fatality rates on our roads have been decreasing for the last four years, we still had 880 people killed on our roads in 2009 – and many of them weren’t wearing their seat belts.

In fact, a 2009 survey reported only 77 percent of Missourians are buckling up. The state's rate has been at a plateau since 2004 and remains consistently below the national average of 84 percent. Research shows a primary seat belt law would increase the usage rate saving 63 lives, 759 serious injuries and $179 million in costs in the first year it goes into effect. Amending the current law will also provide $16.2 million in a one-time federal incentive grant to use for safety enforcement, education and engineering.

Missouri’s current seat belt law is considered only a secondary offense, meaning that a person must first be cited for some other traffic violation before being issued a ticket for failing to wear a safety belt.

Representative Steve Webber from Columbia recently introduced HB 1877 to the House of Representatives that would change all that. This bill would modify Missouri’s current seat belt law by making it a primary traffic offense and all drivers and passengers would be required to wear a safety belt.

I know there are still some people who won’t be in favor of a primary law, but the truth is Missouri needs it. This law will save money, reduce injuries on our roads and most importantly save lives – maybe even of someone you love. Let’s make this the year Missouri makes safety its primary goal.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One Year Later

What were you doing one year ago? 

One year ago sites like facebook and Twitter still seemed relatively new to many - now users have increased exponentially and both of my parents have accounts.

One year ago my daugher still didn't know about Dora the Explorer - now I sing the "map" song every night before bedtime, in the car, during dinner...

And one year ago today Missouri made history as the first state in the nation to begin a Recovery Act project - now Missouri has shown that investing in transportation creates jobs, boosts the economy and improves our roads and bridges.

See some of those improvements in the photos of that first-in-the-nation project, the Osage River Bridge.

And one year from now?  Who knows, but I'll hopefully have expanded my repertoire of children's songs by then.

Monday, February 15, 2010

How Fun is That?

I was happy today to check MoDOT's facebook page and see that we have surpassed the 3,000 fan mark. How fun is that? If you're a page administrator, trust me, it's pretty fun.

In checking some of the demographics, it turns out MoDOT has fans from mulitple states and countries, including Turkey, Denmark, South Korea and Jamaica. Wow! It's interesting to think of our Jamaica fans, perhaps with a laptop under a sunny tropical sky, checking the latest MoDOT update while crews are out today clearing roads on a snowy Missouri Monday.

I want to thank all of our facebook fans for their comments and participation. I hope you'll continue to give us your valuable feedback, and ask your friends to do the same. We want to hear from you!

In the meantime, we'll keep the updates coming and hope to see some of those sunny skies here soon, too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tangible Results

People expect their government to be efficient and held accountable. MoDOT takes that to heart and focuses on strong tangible results. A recent podcast by the Texas Department of Transportation interviewed MoDOT Director Pete Rahn and spoke with him about MoDOT's comprehensive performance management program. Listen to how it keeps Missouri moving in a positive direction and gives Missouri the accountability it deserves. Let us know your thoughts!

MoDOT's Performance Management

Monday, February 8, 2010

MoDOT Recovery Act Funds Obligated Ahead of Schedule

MoDOT meant business when it set out to show the world that transportation projects could have an immediate impact on creating jobs and boosting the economy. Before the ink was dry making the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act law, Missouri had signed a contract and began construction on the nation’s first stimulus project.

Keeping that momentum rolling, MoDOT has now obligated all of the $524.6 million it received in recovery act funds for MoDOT-administered projects well in advance of the March 2nd deadline.

“From launching the nation’s first transportation stimulus project to obligating all of our recovery act funds ahead of schedule, MoDOT has worked rapidly to show that transportation projects do play an integral role in supporting jobs and rebuilding our nation’s economy,” said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. “While these funds don’t come close to covering all of our transportation needs, they have helped fill a short-term gap as other federal and state resources continue to decline.”

To date, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission has awarded 187 economic stimulus projects totaling $469 million. The ARRA funding awarded to date will support 12,524 direct, indirect and induced jobs based on Federal Highway Administration estimates.

Under the Dome

I spent February 3 at the Missouri State Capitol. It was Transportation Day - a day when the leaders of MoDOT's regional districts and division leaders from headquarters make a special effort to visit with State senators and representatives.
I hung out in the Rotunda on the third floor, just outside the House of Representatives. Pretty rich surroundings for this office worker. Amid the marble, the columns, the bronze busts of honored Missourians and all manner of architectural wonder came Capitol visitors with comments and questions. Good comments and questions.
"I think the texting ban should extend to all ages." - Legislation to ban texting for ALL drivers was filed and is under consideration.
"What's with these train pictures?" - MoDOT administers the funding that makes AMTRAK possible in Missouri. The state legislature, federal lawmakers and administrators, Union Pacific Railroad and MoDOT worked as a team to jumpstart track improvements that have already improved on-time records for passenger rail service - and freight transportation time, too. More are on the way. The cooperative effort is a great success.
Between appointments, MoDOT leaders gathered to compare notes. They reported that legislators praised highway crews for valiant snow fighting efforts and asked questions about local projects and plans. They challenged the department to continue to squeeze the best value from every taxpayer dollar ... and to remain responsive to legislative ideas and requests.
The Capitol is a busy place of ideas, plans, action and opinions. Be sure to share your ideas and opinions on transportation and other topics with your elected officials - and with MoDOT, of course!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Traveling Through History

I’m sort of a history nut, so when our mapping and engineering policy groups started building the Missouri Highway Map Archive, I got into it. Those old maps were just the kind of historical gems I loved to bump into.

They were like snapshots of Missouri’s transportation history. It wasn’t just seeing the network of highways spread across their pages over the decades that was cool. It was the design of the covers, the Art Deco fonts from the 1930s, the flowery official language on the panels, the cover photos and layouts. All the details that captured the time period when they were printed. Even the map legends reflected issues of days gone by. Descriptions like “Earth Road Graded by State -- But Not All Weather” or designations for “Big Game Preserves” echoed values and concerns from a different era.
Now you can view these archives in PDF form at They are printable but we scanned them at almost full size to maintain as much detail as we could. They won’t fit on 8 1/2 by 11 paper -- unless you want to print them in sections – so you may just want to view them on your computer screen. Either way, if you are a history buff or just interested in seeing what old Missouri road maps looked like, take a minute and check out these glimpses of our past. They show a changing picture of Missouri you just can’t get anywhere else.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Make the Right Call Super Bowl Sunday

It’s time for the the Super Bowl. Saints vs Colts. Brees vs Manning. It’s both the happiest day and the saddest day of the year for my husband. Happy because this is what the entire football season has came down to: the two best teams competing for the title. Sad because Super Bowl Sunday marks the end of football for the next six months.

Regardless, it’s a great day for friends to come together to cheer on their favorite team – or commercial. Super Bowl Sunday is one of America’s largest and most entertaining sporting events; but it can also be one of the most dangerous days on the road, due to drinking and driving.

Whether you’re hosting a party or attending one somewhere else, be a responsible Super Bowl host by following these tips:
• Make sure everyone has a designated driver.
• Serve plenty of food and include soft drinks, juice and water.
• Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter of the game.
• Have the number of local cab companies at hand.
• Take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving while impaired.
• Only serve alcohol to guests over 21 years of age.

Luckily I get to take the year off from being Super Bowl Host Extraordinaire and take in the festivities at a friend’s house. But even as a guest I need to remember to do my part:
• Designate my sober driver before the party begins (or in my case, volunteer to be the sober driver)
• Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast.
• Never let a friend get behind the wheel of their vehicle if they are impaired.
• Always buckle up – it’s the best defense against other impaired drivers.

Remember, Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk. Make the right call and ensure everyone will Arrive Alive from this year’s Super Bowl.