Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Highway 60 Caravan

Hundreds of people braved the heat to participate in the Show-Me 60 Caravan celebration on Aug. 13. The caravan celebrated the completion of Route 60 as a completely four-lane facility across Missouri.

Mayor Jay Waggoner kicked off the opening ceremony in Willow Springs and emphasized how long the community has waited for a four-lane corridor. "The community has dreamed of this day for about 50 years. Dreams can become reality when men of vision commit to them," said Waggoner.

"I can't even believe we are here today finally finishing it," said U.S. Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson. Emerson highlighted the importance of this corridor to commerce throughout rural Missouri. "We have a great quality of life. We certainly have people who have a magnificent work ethic. We just have a very special place that we call home... There is absolutely no doubt that our communities now will grow and prosper. While we may not see it, our children and grandchildren will," said Emerson.

In addition to Willow Springs, the caravan stopped in Mountain View, Winona, Poplar Bluff, Dexter and Sikeston.

During the whistle stop in Mountain View, participants were treated to an exhibit of historical memorabilia and photographs from along Route 60. In Winona, Representative J.C. Kuessner shared with the crowd a story about his grandmother receiving the right to vote in 1920 and riding a mule to cast her vote for a two cent sales tax to improve transportation. "She knew in her own mind that she'd never see this, but she thought for sure her grandkids might see some changes. Well, in 1925 she saw the beginning of the building of highway 60," said Kuessner.

The caravan concluded in Sikeston, where Senator Bond expressed his support. "This is going to be tremendous avenue for commerce, for transportation, for tourism, and for safety. I learned back when I was governor that communities grow when they have good transportation. That is one of the key factors in seeing communities grow and providing economic opportunity. This provides that opportunity," said Bond.

Route 60 Celebration Photos

Jonas Brothers Helping to Reduce Texting and Driving

These days with one tween and another wanna-be tween in my house, our TV is tuned to shows like Hannah Montana, Suite Life on Deck and of course Jonas L.A. featuring the Jonas Brothers. While I’m not always into watching them on TV, I am interested in a new anti-texting and driving campaign the brothers are supporting.

The Jonas Brothers will be playing recreational softball games this year at minor league stadiums throughout the country. At each venue they are working with Allstate to educate fans about the dangers of texting behind the wheel.

As Kevin Jonas said in the group's announcement: "It is really important that our fans understand just how dangerous texting while driving is. Pledging not to text and drive is a promise to your friends, your family and yourself to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel."

During the games, fans can join the Jonas Brothers in pledging not to text and drive by adding their thumbprint – the symbol of their pledge – to a banner that will be traveling with the "Road Dogs" tour. Participants will receive 'TXTNG KLLS' thumb bands to wear as a reminder of their commitment. Throughout the game, fans will also have the opportunity to win autographed t-shirts and other prizes.

The Jonas Brothers are raising awareness about a serious danger and giving the fans something to remember in a positive way. Unfortunately they are not coming to Missouri, but to take the pledge not to text and drive or for more information about the tour, visit www.facebook.com/XtheTXT.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Announcing the Amtrak Ticket Raffle Winners

Congratulations to all listed!

...for The Lincoln University WOW Weekend raffle (8/21/10) the ticket winners are:
MO River Runner ticket for one coach roundtrip- Jeff Maclin
MO River Runner ticket for one coach roundtrip- Alex Kelley

...for The Missouri State Fair raffle (8/12/10 – 8/22/10) the ticket winners are:
MO River Runner tickets for four coach roundtrip- Kristin Leiker
MO River Runner tickets for four coach roundtrip- Beth Holsather
MO River Runner tickets for two coach roundtrip- Shawn Murphy
MO River Runner tickets for two coach roundtrip- Sandy Wessel
MO River Runner ticket for one coach roundtrip- Martin Cunningham
MO River Runner ticket for one coach roundtrip- Ed Curtin
MO River Runner ticket for one coach roundtrip- Sheila Thacker
MO River Runner ticket for one coach roundtrip- Jeani Longstreth

...for The State Employee Appreciation Capitol Lawn Picnic raffle (8/20/10) the ticket winners are:
MO River Runner tickets for two coach roundtrip- Shawna Martin
MO River Runner tickets for two coach roundtrip- Wendy Libey
MO River Runner tickets for two business roundtrip- Connie Sandbothe

Amtrak provided the tickets.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Missouri Part of America's Marine Highway System

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently designated certain waterway corridors across America that will soon serve as highways of their own. The idea is to move more cargo from our highways and onto our waterway system, loading and unloading goods just like tractor trailers do. Click to see where these waterway corridors are located. http://www.marad.dot.gov/ships_shipping_landing_page/mhi_home/mhi_home.htm

If you looked at the waterway corridor map, you'll see two corridors are in Missouri. A good portion of one of the marine corridors includes the Missouri River from Kansas City to St. Louis. It is called the M-70 because it will potentially reduce freight truck congestion on Interstate 70. The new M-55 marine corridor includes the Mississippi River, which incorporates St. Louis, and is expected to reduce freight truck congestion along Interstate 55.

These marine highway corridor designations by the USDOT helps a push by MoDOT to increase waterway traffic in order to utilize all forms of transportation to their fullest. MoDOT's freight development unit has been working for close to a year to identify and prioritize strategies to increase freight traffic on Missouri waterways. http://www.modot.org/othertransportation/freight/index.htm

Increasing the usage of waterway shipping will decrease road congestion, harmful emissions, fossil fuel usage and highway maintenance costs. Think about this: one waterway barge holds the same amount of cargo that 15 rail cars and 70 tractor trailers can carry. A common waterway tow down the Missouri River has 15 barges... meaning more than 1000 tractor trailers would get removed from our roads with one simple waterway tow. Less congestion, less air pollution and possibly a less expensive product for the consumer to buy due to cheaper shipping costs. I'm on board with all of that.

Where the Revenue Meets the Road

In the past few years, MoDOT has taken an aggressive approach to sell land it no longer needs for the state's highway system. Everyone benefits from this effort:
  • The proceeds from the land sales go to road and bridge projects.
  • The property goes back on the tax rolls bringing in local revenue.
  • Buyers get land they can develop or use in a variety of ways.
  • And, MoDOT is spared maintaining property it no longer needs.
In the last fiscal year, MoDOT conveyed 344 parcels totaling 1,324 acres and generated almost $4.4 million for highway projects. A property blitz in April alone moved 15 properties and brought in almost $1 million for roads and bridges.

Next up for sale are several closed maintenance sites throughout the state and some property near a major project under way in Kansas City - kcICON. Any proceeds generated from the sale of the kcICON parcel will go directly toward paying for the project, which is improving 4.7 miles of interstate near downtown Kansas City.

Visit www.modot.org/realtyforsale for more information on the Realty to Roads program and state property for sale.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Fourth of the Way There

When the Route JJ bridge over Richland Creek in Morgan County opened last week, it was the 200th bridge completed under MoDOT's Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program. The milestone means we're a quarter of the way finished with fixing 802 of the state's worst bridges by October 2013.

Fifty-four bridges are under construction, with another 548 remaining to be repaired or replaced. Many of the bridges are being closed completely to speed construction, and this has proven to be an effective plan of action. MoDOT is repairing or replacing a bridge every 2.5 days under the program.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sobriety checkpoints tonight

Today kicks off Missouri's You Drink & Drive, You Lose campaign, and I will be posting from a checkpoint in St. Louis. Stay tuned for details...

Ten Reasons You Should Be Riding the Missouri River Runner

10. We work 7 days a week; Missouri River Runner operates 7 days a week and it is the coolest ride to the Missouri State Fair; the St. Louis Arch; KC BBQ! Matter of fact, tell us your Amtrak travel story on our facebook page and let us know if we can share it!
9. We sell the best traveling dogs in the state…hotdogs that is, you can eat and ride on our Missouri River Runner.
8. All your friends are doing it; Ridership has been up seven percent from last year.
7. Amtrak’s Customer Service Index indicated that we are third in the nation on their customer service chart, so relax, rest assured we will get you there.
6. Can you say Day trip? You can easily travel with your friends on the Missouri River Runner with a day trip into Washington, Hermann, Warrensburg, Sedalia...!
5. We collect cans! For a program that helps Capitol City Habitat for Humanity and Amtrak build a home for the needy. Read our Press Release.
4. What a view of the Missouri River you’re going to have!
3. Riding Amtrak qualifies you as being "An Earth Air Pollution Avenger" because riding Amtrak will help save us all from air pollution. Wear your title well, hero.
2. You can get your work done while riding; internet hot spots and AC jacks are available in most trains...so unfortunately this will mean you will no longer have any excuse for not getting your work done while traveling for your boss, so now you will have to make up new ones. ;)
1. Be stress free, we will get you there on time! On-time performance is at an average of 92 percent for the year!

Missouri River Runner

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New DWI Laws to Sober Drunk Drivers

If you’ve ever had an alcoholic drink or two, you know that it can be a little while before you feel back to normal. Unfortunately, many people still think they can handle themselves after a drink or more and drive. However, sometimes one drink is all it takes to make the difference between life and death behind the wheel.

Beginning next week, new Missouri DWI legislation will crack down on drunk drivers and make Missouri roads safer.

Missouri’s You Drink & Drive, You Lose campaign takes place Aug. 20 through Sept. 6. Law enforcement will participate in statewide sobriety checkpoints and DWI saturation patrols enforcing Missouri’s DWI laws and keeping impaired drivers off the road. At the same time, advertising messages will remind drivers of the consequences of impaired driving.

The new DWI law which goes into effect Aug. 28 will:
• Increase jail time for repeat DWI offenders and those with higher blood alcohol levels
• Move more cases from municipal courts to state courts, where penalties can be tougher
• Mandate better record-keeping for DWI cases so that repeat offenders can be properly tracked; and
• Offer offenders opportunities to participate in a DWI court program that incorporates treatment and close monitoring instead of going to jail.

In 2009, 280 people were killed, 1,140 seriously injured and 3,719 received minor injuries in Missouri crashes involving an impaired driver.

Please remember to hand your keys over if you’ve been drinking, or offer to give someone else a ride if you’re sober. Let’s all get home safely. To learn more about impaired driving and how you can Arrive Alive, visit www.savemolives.com.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First in the Nation - Completed as Promised

Hundreds of people gathered on the new Osage River Bridge today in Tuscumbia, Mo., to celebrate a new bridge that offers a much-needed connection for businesses, travelers, farmers and the military in mid-Missouri. It was truly heart-warming to see people of all ages and backgrounds gathering to celebrate something that links each of us - transportation.

Standing on the new structure, I couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief. As the marching band played and the crowd covered their hearts for the national anthem, it was hard not to notice the Depression-era bridge immediately next to us. The difference between the bridge this community had been using every day and the bridge they will now use is striking, and I was happy to be on the wider, smoother, sturdier structure as the ceremony began.

This project was the first in the nation to begin after stimulus funding was approved by President Obama in Feb. 2009. Within minutes, this community began reaping the benefits as sparks flew and work began to replace a crumbling structure with something they can rely on for decades to come. It was a great sight to see this project completed as promised and see the smiles of so many of the Missourians it will serve.




Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fabulous, Fantastic Fair Fun!

Become a part of state history when you sign the new
30-foot bridge beam before it's used in an upcoming project.
As of today, it's officially fair time!

With a newly repaired or replaced state bridge opening every 2.5 days, the Missouri Department of Transportation thinks it's cause to celebrate. So MoDOT is offering visitors to the Missouri State Fair a chance to be a part of the historic progress taking place.

Fairgoers will be invited to sign their names to a 30-foot bridge beam that will later become part of the support for a new bridge on Route U over Spring Fork Creek in Pettis County. The beam, about as long as a stretch limo, is four feet wide, almost two feet thick and weighs more than 10 tons.

Check out a great video below of the new beam being put in the place at the highway gardens and see the contrast when it is placed next to an old bridge beam.

Lots of other activities take place the highway gardens and transportation exposition center. The annual No MOre Trash! Day is scheduled for Aug. 13, with special activities that include an appearance by Buttons the Clown, trash can painting, games, snacks and a puppet show. Inside the air-conditioned exposition center you'll find interactive displays featuring games, contests and giveaways. Kids can participate in a scavenger hunt for a chance to win a bike donated by Cecil's Cyclery of Sedalia.

And who would miss their chance to see Barrel Bob up close? Visitors can have their photo taken with Barrel Bob, a piece of art that has become an icon in the Kansas City area, as well as with a cutout of a MoDOT dump truck.

Can't wait to see you there!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


They say there is nothing like a satisfied customer.

MoDOT Interim Director Kevin Keith and members of the Safe & Sound bridge improvement team met three of them last week on a couple of new bridges on Route 127 in Pettis County, south of La Monte.

The two bridges that are just 1,000 feet apart had been been open for less than a week after a 66-day closure. KTU Constructors, MoDOT's design-build contractor for the Safe & Sound program, chose to utilize one road closure to build two new bridges. Their construction schedule called for an 81-day closure -- or roughly equivalent to the typical bridge replacement project.

But KTU was able to finish in 66 days -- 15 days early. In effect, each project took 33 days instead of nearly 90!

Local farmers Charles Reavis and Roy Zeb Thomas and Pettis County Presiding Commissioner Rusty Kahrs couldn't have been happier. Reavis and Thomas both said that the communication with MoDOT prior to the start of construction allowed them to prepare for the closure period. Kahrs explained how important it is to enhance rural infrastructure to support an agriculture-based economy.

Their comments seemed to dovetail with other experiences around the state. It seems that people are willing to accept a little inconvenience to get a new bridge!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not Even for a Minute

It's a temptation most every parent or caregiver has probably experienced. "I'm just running in for a minute. I'm sure the kids will be okay if I leave them alone in the car. What could possibly happen?"

Fortunately, the vast majority never give in to that temptation. For those who do, the consequences can be devastating. Left alone in a vehicle even for a short time, a child is in danger of dehydration, injury, abduction and death. According to Safe Kids USA, from 1998 to 2009, 443 children died from heat stroke while unattended in a car.

That's why MoDOT and the Children's Trust Fund are teaming up to remind parents and caregivers never to leave children alone in or around vehicles - not even for a minute. MoDOT has placed posters supporting the CTF's Not Even for a Minute public awareness campaign in its 28 rest area locations in Missouri, which are visited by about 20 million people a year. In addition, the department's electronic interstate message boards will carry the reminder through August.

"Keeping Missourians safe is our top priority, and we are pleased to help the Children's Trust Fund remind folks never to leave children alone in or around cars," MoDOT Interim Director Kevin Keith said.

For more information, visit http://www.ctf4kids.org/.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Homegrown Bridge

MoDOT will be displaying its own homegrown, blue-ribbon concrete bridge beam at the State Fair that opens later this week. Needless to say, this display does not have the typical agricultural feel that you would expect at the State Fair. But having new, wider bridges in rural areas is extremely important for Missouri's farmers. And that's why MoDOT is taking this opportunity to showcase the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program.

The program is improving 802 of the state's poorest bridges. The vast majority of them are on rural, low-volume roads. Many of them are just one lane wide. And on average they are 60 years old. Already 192 of these projects have been completed, with MoDOT reopening a new bridge ever two-and-a-half days since April 2009.

Precast bridge elements like the beam that will be on display outside the Highway Gardens are a key part of the design and construction strategies being employed on this project by KTU Constructors, MoDOT's design-build contractor that is building 554 new Safe & Sound bridges. This particular one was made by CoreSlab in Marshall and is 30-feet long and weighs 21,000 pounds. "Missouri loves new bridges!" is painted along its side, and visitors may sign the beam to show their support for improved infrastructure across the state. The beam will be used in a new bridge on Pettis County Route U over Spring Fork Creek that will be built next year. Next to the new beam will be an old, rusty steel girder that came out of another Pettis County bridge that is currently under construction. The contrast between the two is dramatic.

Pettis County has 22 bridges on the Safe & Sound program. Nine of them are already complete and all of them will be done this time next year.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

MoDOT Cyclist Says People Were Highlight of 2,600-Mile Trek

The trip is over. He cycled nearly 2,600 hundred miles in 29 days with every mile logged under a punishing July sun.

But Kris Sandgren says the most memorable part of the trip was not the heat, but the people he encountered along the way.

“The highlight was defintely the people I ran into,” Sandgren said. “I had people put me up for the night several times. “

Sandgren said meeting these folks wasn’t a problem.

“When you’re wearing spandex shorts and a bike jersey, you stand out. It gets people asking questions.”

While the oppressive heat and humidty took its toll, Sandgren said the only trouble he ran into was a small pack of dogs chasing him down in Nebraska.

Sandgren’s favorite part of his trek? The end.

“I was totally surprised when I saw all the people in Jefferson City waiting to greet me,” he said. “There were probably 50 people and a television station. They even had my wife there to meet me. I got very emotional over it. I was glad to be home.”

Sandgren’s ride was all to help fund the Fallen Workers Memorial, a monument dedicated to the workers who have given their lives working on Missouri’s highways. Sandgren generated around $5,000 for the memorial.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I-49 Coming to Missouri!

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission today approved highway construction resulting in the upgrading of the U.S. 71 corridor between Kansas City and Joplin to interstate standards by the end of 2012. Improvements include removing at-grade crossings and bring Missouri closer to getting an I-49 designation.

This will be a huge safety improvement as at-grade crossings are removed in order to meet interstate requirements. It will mean a smoother and safer ride for long-distance travelers, and enhanced economic development and freight travel.

The original intent was to fund a four-lane bypass of Bella Vista, Ark., creating an interstate from Joplin to Fort Smith, Ark. Once Arkansas decided to move forward with two lanes rather than four for the Bella Vista Bypass, money was available to begin work on U.S. 71.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Safer Commute

A safer commute. That's just one benefit residents of Moniteau County are enjoying as the second phase of the U.S. Route 50 relocation project is complete.

The $24.8 million project started in October 2008 and relocated more than eight miles of Route 50, from Route K to just west of California. Residents will see improved traffic capacity and safety.

The first phase of the Route 50 relocation project included the construction of 11 miles of new four-lane highway, from just west of St. Martins in Cole County to Route K in Moniteau County. The project cost $30 million and was completed in October 2008.