Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We Need Your Ideas to Click

We need your help. Seat belt use in Missouri has remained relatively stagnant for the past six years, with seat belt use fluctuating only slightly between 75 percent and 77 percent since 2004. The national average is 85 percent. It is even more concerning when we look at specific groups of people in our state like truck drivers who are at 64 percent, or teen drivers who are at 66 percent.

Engineering, enforcement, education and emergency services are effective and necessary, but are no longer moving the numbers in the direction they need to be headed. We need some new and innovative ways to get Missourians to buckle up.

If you have a crazy, wild, might-just-work idea for increasing seat belt use, we want to hear it! Tweet @saveMOlives, post it to our Facebook or send an e-mail to savemolives@modot.mo.gov.

You are 42 times more likely to die in a crash if you are not wearing your seat belt. In 2009, 880 people were killed in traffic crashes. Of those killed, 67.2 percent were not wearing a seat belt. For more information, videos and statistics on the benefits of seat belts visit www.savemolives.com.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Celebrate - Then Get Back to Work!

It's always fun to share success with friends.

MoDOT Motor Carrier Services got to do that at a recent ceremony, when our division and the MoDOT Springfield Area District received Governor's Awards for Quality and Productivity.

Motor Carrier Services earned honors in customer services. Our group handles the licensing of Missouri-based motor carriers. We also collect fees, taxes and enforce safety laws. Here's the big news: the people we license, tax and hold to the law are happy to work with us! In fact, 95.7 percent of them report they are satisfied - or very satisfied - with our service. A government agency. Wow.

We, in turn, are awed by our co-workers in southwest Missouri. The Springfield Area District earned the first-ever GAQP Pinnacle Award for constructing the first Diverging Diamond Interchange in the Western Hemisphere. The radical, lower-cost design dramatically improved safety and traffic flow in a heavily-congested area. They even completed the entire project in just six months. People found it easy to keep tabs on the project and quickly learned to use the "wrong" side of the road to get through the area quickly and safely. (I used to live nearby and am floored every time I drive through the area!)

It's very telling that even at the celebration, the two groups talked shop, discussing what new improvements could be made to the driving and freight-moving experience. It made me proud to be MoDOT.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Be Thankful for Safe Travel

Like many other Missourians, my family and I will be traveling Wednesday to visit our family for Thanksgiving. Also like your family, we have traditions that must be upheld – the bountiful food of course (and not a chicken casserole like my mom tried to pass off as the Thanksgiving meal one year), and sharing what we are thankful for before the big meal this Thursday. Although there are many things I can list, I am most thankful that we will all be together. And while that may seem obvious, for 280 Missouri families it is not the case – their family members died last year as a result of impaired driving crashes.

Impaired driving continues to be a grave problem in Missouri and around the country leaving a human toll of lost lives, grief-stricken family and friends, injuries and disabilities that never go away. Over the last five years in Missouri, 1,348 people have been killed in impaired driving crashes and thousands more injured.

And the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be an especially dangerous time of year on the roads. Between the two holidays in 2009, 88 people died in traffic crashes in Missouri (21 were alcohol-related) and 4,650 were injured (with 343 related to alcohol).

Some contend that those drinking and driving are simply hurting and killing themselves, but a substantial number of people killed or injured in these crashes are innocent victims. In fact, 31 percent of the fatalities and 40 percent of the injuries occurred to some other party involved in the crash – not the drinking driver or pedestrian.

So what can we do? Each of us can take the responsibility to drive sober, call a cab or designate a driver while celebrating this holiday season and urge all our friends and family to do the same. If you’ve had a personal experience with an impaired driving crash, you can share it with others on a special remembrance page at facebook.com/humantoll in hopes that more education will help others to not drive impaired and other families will be spared such tragedies.

When you get to your Thanksgiving meal this year, be thankful you got there safely and let’s all work together to Arrive Alive.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Just last night we were having dinner out and a group of guys ranging in age from 25-50 were at the table next to us. They were having a few beers and getting a little loud with their conversation. My ears pricked up, though I was trying hard not to listen.
The talk at their table was about law enforcement of all kinds, and the unfair treatment of cops to guys like them. Although I can’t quote them directly from my middle-age memory, I can give you the highlights:
I was only going 10 mph over the limit, and they had the nerve to stop me!
That blankety blank cop asked how much I’d had to drink!!
I think they are just out to raise some money by giving tickets!
Now, I can’t say that I’ve never in my life done anything wrong. But when it comes to the men and women who work in law enforcement, I know three things: I know that they are doing their job, I know I don’t want to do their job and I know they are trying to protect us from ourselves and the other crazy people out there who think the cops are just out to get them. For that, I am thankful!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Missouri Miles

For this month's Missouri Miles, listen to MoDOT's new director Kevin Keith, appointed this month. You'll also learn about a MoDOT employee who walked more than 90 miles to pay tribute to his fallen co-workers and to raise money for a Fallen Workers' Memorial. Get the latest update on MoDOT's five-year direction and how we have worked to cut costs. Finally, don't miss the view of the windfarms. All that and more on this month's edition!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Who I Want to Be

I try my best not to be a helicopter mom. I try to let my kids, you know, make their own mistakes (on selected things).
But lately, my friends are probably starting to hear the sound of chopper blades when I’m around. Okay, I may preach a little about the benefits of seat belts and always ask if everyone in my car is buckled. Not to mention telling them they absolutely cannot text and drive.
I’ve begun to notice when my friends call me from their cell now, they quickly tell me they aren’t driving or that they didn’t text me earlier because they WERE driving.
So I think I’m developing a rep as the ENFORCER among my friends, family and neighbors.
Is it who I want to be? Well…. I’m a grownup now and I guess if it keeps any one of them, or anyone else from hearing the sounds of chopper blades from the Lifeflight helicopter after a car crash then it’s a badge I’m willing to wear, with honor.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Golden Hour

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The Eads Bridge photo above has been chosen for the cover shot and January photo for the 2011 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials calendar. It was taken by Cathy Morrison with MoDOT.
The photo shows the golden hour of Eads Bridge, a combined road and railway bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis, connecting St. Louis and East St. Louis, Illinois. Today the road deck has been restored, allowing vehicle and pedestrian traffic to cross the river. The rail deck has been in use for the St. Louis MetroLink light rail line since 1993.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Human Toll

toll: verb -- To ring slowly, with regularly repeated strokes, esp. for announcing a death
The human toll of impaired driving is devastating.
In 2009, 280 people were killed, 1,140 seriously injured in crashes involving a drunk driver. In Missouri, someone is killed or injured in an impaired driving crash every 1.9 hours.
Those that are killed leave a void that no one can fill. They leave behind family, friends and loved ones who are haunted by their loss.
But, not everyone is killed in a drinking-involved crash. Some are injured and their physical wounds heal with time, some suffer permanent and disabling injuries. Some victims have difficulty overcoming the emotional and psychological impact of the crash. All are changed forever.
Visit our wall on Facebook at www.facebook,com/humantoll. We want to remember those who have been injured or killed in impaired driving crashes and to remind others of the importance of driving sober not only this holiday season but always.
We invite you to share your story of how impaired driving has affected your life, or the life of someone you love.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Wheelies Are Optional

It isn’t every day that your job requires you to wear a bike helmet, but on Nov. 8, staff from MoDOT’s Kansas City office wore their helmets with pride as they rode through town on two wheels as part of a workshop for transportation planners and engineers on “Understanding a Cyclists Perspective.”

Hosted by the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, the six-hour seminar introduced staff to the physical, mental and agility challenges of actually maneuvering a bicycle through active traffic. The agenda included classroom and hands-on sessions and covered:

·         Benefits of cycling
·         Principles of traffic law
·         Lane choice and position
·         Bicycle crashes
·         Sharing the road
·         Bike handling skills and urban practice ride

The concept of the workshop was developed as part MoBikeFed’s effort to form a new KC regional bike and pedestrian advocacy organization.

“This organization will partially focus its time and resources on bicycling and pedestrian education. A hallmark of this education will be to offer it to transportation staff and elected officials throughout the Kansas City region,” Said Eric Bunch, program coordinator for the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation.  “Before we take the program to a bigger audience we needed to get feedback from the experts. MoDOT District 4 has been a great supporter of bicycling in the Kansas City area, but as advocates, we realized that we could help MoDOT staff gain a better perspective of how our built environment works for cyclists.”  

This was the inaugural run for “Understanding a Cyclist's Perspective” but the workshop borrows elements from a program offered to the public called Traffic Skills 101. MoBikeFed hopes in the future to offer this workshop as a continuing education credit option for planners and engineers.

While most of the class was held in classroom session, the team did enjoy an hour-long bike ride through Lee’s Summit, Mo.’s urban streets.

I have always considered myself to be an experienced cyclist.  I have ridden my bike in urban, suburban and rural settings on roads, trails and even sidewalks,” said MoDOT Construction and Materials Engineer Perry Allen. “The training provided me what I need to know to ride safely and legally, especially in an urban and suburban setting. I found the class to be very informative and beneficial increasing both my interest, as well as my confidence as a cyclist.” 

The workshop is open to other groups and organizations. Contact Eric at 573.701.2492 or Eric.Bunch@mobikefed.org for details. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Talk to Us!

MoDOT wants to be accessible to the citizens we serve. We want your input, we want your opinion, we want you to talk to us.

To make this happen, we try to remove as many communication barriers as possible. We want it to be easy for you to reach the right person in the department.

That’s why you can go to our main website and send us a comment from any page. At the bottom of every web page of www.modot.org you’ll see a little word balloon that says “Give Us Your Feedback on this Page.” Originally we had launched the feature so folks could comment on specific topics or web pages. We quickly learned it served a broader purpose.

People started clicking on the link to ask questions about projects, road conditions, public meetings and anything else that was on their mind.
As the person who oversees the website, I saw that as a huge success! Web visitors didn’t have to navigate to a comment form or hunt down a phone number. Now they were talking to us whenever they felt like it. My comments from the site tripled in a matter of weeks. While we didn’t actually receive a lot of comments about the site, we did get to hear from citizens on about every other topic.

We still have more detailed comment forms on the site, and we still want you to call 1-888 Ask MoDOT whenever you feel like it. But if you’re surfing our site, and something crosses your mind, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the word balloon. We’ll make sure your comment makes it to the right person.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wish List

Every motorist has an opinion of other drivers' behavior. My pet peeve? Tailgaters. Grrrrr

My husband is willing to give those who irritate him the benefit of the doubt. When someone blazes past him, obviously flaunting the speed limit, he remarks that the driver must have a digestive issue and has urgent needs to attend to.

What about the folks who spend their workday on the road? What behavior would professional drivers most like other highway users to change?

MoDOT posed that question to participants in the Missouri Truck Driving Championships. The answers are posted in a "Trucker on the Street" segment on MoDOT's YouTube site.

I bet you can guess what they say before you watch the video:
  • Pay attention to your surroundings
  • Buckle up
  • Be courteous. Show respect.
  • Give everyone enough space.
  • Use turn signals.
It seems to me that full-time drivers have the same concerns as most part-time highway users.

Stay tuned. More Trucker on the Street videos are coming soon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Win a vacation on the Missouri River Runner

Welcome to the ultimate Missouri vacation experience giveaway. Thanks to Amtrak, 94.3 KAT Country and Missouri River Runner (MoDOT) you can have it all!

Who couldn’t use a Missouri vacation? I know… I know some of you are thinking that you sometimes need a vacation after your vacation, but what if you didn’t have to always drive to your vacation destination? What if you could log on and surf the web while glimpsing at scenic Missouri River views when traveling? What if the kids could grab a snack all while making a childhood memory of the family trip experience on a train?

KAT Country’s “KATcations Contest” is giving away a trip for four!…Read contest details here.

Need some vacation ideas?
In Independence visit the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum; get exercise and maybe lost in a corn maze in Warrensburg. We all know that there will always be a welcoming winery in Herman. In Sedalia, stay at the Hotel Bothwell and immerse the family into the 1920’s. Do some shopping in Kirkwood; experience the City Museum and a Rams Game in St. Louis. Take in a dinner at the Westport District in Kansas City; not to mention, a spa weekend getaway and afternoon at the Missouri State Museum in Jefferson City. Visit an old Indian trading post at Fort Charrette Historic Village in Washington, MO; and maybe you can catch a circus puppet show in Lee’s Summit.
Go see Missouri on the Missouri River Runner!

So sign up, relax and enjoy the ride…and please tell us all about your train experiences!

Notice our new Missouri River Runner train schedule effective November 8, 2010

Sign-up here to enter contest!
Visit Amtrak!
Visit MoRail!
Follow us on Twitter!
Be our friend at Facebook!
Visit Missouri tourism!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

MoDOT Veteran Named New Director

A familiar face for those acquainted with MoDOT is taking over as director of MoDOT. The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission today tapped Kevin Keith to lead the department. Kevin had been serving as MoDOT's interim director since April. Before that, he was the department's chief engineer for nine years. Altogether, he has been with MoDOT for more than 25 years. Kevin was selected as part of an intense, national search for a new MoDOT director that began in April.
Kevin is known to be innovative, results-oriented and a straight-shooter. He is nationally recognized for his innovative efforts to implement "Practical Design," a no-frills approach enabling MoDOT to satisfy customer needs while saving money to put toward more transportation improvements. Practical Design has saved Missouri taxpayers more than $1 billion and has been adopted in numerous other states.
As he moves forward in his new capacity, Kevin said his top two priorities are to make the best use of the resources MoDOT has available and to have a conversation with Missourians about our transportation needs and how we will fund improvements in the future.
So begins a new chapter in the MoDOT history book.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ready, Set, Snow!

So if your house is anything like ours, you've probably had your heater checked out for the winter, switched out all your summer clothes for the cold-weather clothes, and made sure your cars are ready for the snow. Just as we prepare our homes and vehicles for the cold weather, MoDOT employees are busy getting ready for the snow.

The department does lots of things to make sure we're ready for that first snowfall including stocking buildings with salt and beet juice, and ensuring plows and crews are ready by Nov. 1 for bad weather. New this year, we've added additional training on some of our equipment like the TowPLow.

For anyone out there who doesn't speak DOT language, the TowPLow is a really cool piece of equipment we've been using for a few years. It is a 26-foot plow created in Missouri, and now used in 10 other states and parts of Canada. It is designed to trail behind a standard plowing truck and can clear two traffic lanes at one time, the same as two standard snowplows, which saves a lot of time and resources. The department has 65 of these being used in all areas of the state on multi-lane highways, and it's just one of the tools we're using to make sure we keep roads safe for motorists while making the most of our resources.

Something else new for motorists this year is the updated Traveler Information Map on MoDOT's website that now includes weather radar imagery. Viewers can see what is happening and what is coming their way. New categories to better describe winter road conditions include the following: Closed, Covered, Partly Covered, Mostly Clear and Clear.

When bad weather hits, MoDOT will focus on getting roads drivable by treating the highest-traveled major roads and regionally significant roads first until they are mostly clear. All the remaining less-traveled roads will be plowed to allow for safe travel concentrating on hills, curves and intersections.

MoDOT has more than 3,000 employees and more than 1,600 pieces of equipment ready to fight the winter storms. Remember to give snowplows plenty of room to work, don't tailgate and try not to pass plows. We want everyone to get home safely. Buckle up, and remember, when driving in ice and snow, take it slow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Winning Team

MoDOT has recently been awarded some top honors. This week it was announced that the Interstate 64 reconstruction project in St. Louis has been selected as the 2010 America's Transportation Awards Grand Prize Winner by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It competed as one of forty-three projects.

In addition, the new diverging diamond interchange in Springfield, Mo., won the Francis B. Francois Award for Innovation. The award goes to a project that brings value to the public. In this case, the interchange allows traffic to move faster, reduces congestion, increases safety and saves money.

Also, Interim Director Kevin Keith received the President's Transportation Award for Administration. He was recognized for exemplary service and impacting transportation by implementing Practical Design, a cost-saving strategy that has now become our standard way of doing business.

This recognition shows we're working hard to provide quality transportation and use resources wisely. Congratulations to all of those who worked with these projects and were a part of bringing about practical, innovative solutions to achieve tremendous results.