Monday, January 31, 2011

Is Missouri Ready for Snowmageddon 2011?

Get ready for snow Missouri, as Redd Foxx might have said, this could be the big one. Whatever you call it - SnowMaggedon, SnowMG, Snonami, SnowNoWay, OhSnowYouDidn’t , or something else, it’s coming to the entire state. Just as you run to the store to clear out the bread aisle at the grocery store and grab an extra bag of salt to get ready, MoDOT is busy preparing well ahead of each storm also.

Hours before weather is predicted to arrive, MoDOT employees gather around the state to begin organizing and preparing for whatever Mother Nature is sending our way. Besides sending staff out to treat the roads when necessary, employees also check all supplies like salt, fuel, generators and equipment to ensure all levels will last through the coming weather. Staff from around the state also talk with each other to see where resources can be shared if necessary to ensure the roads will be kept as safe as possible.

Even as the bad weather finally hits, not only do you have staff working to keep you safe on the roads, but behind the scenes as well. Many employees stay on the phones, or monitor road conditions across the state in Emergency Operation Centers that will be staffed all hours of the day as needed.

Your best bet in weather like this is to stay at home. If you do need to travel though, plan ahead, take your time and know what you’re up against by checking the department’s Traveler Information Map. Located at, the map gives drivers an up-to-the-minute view of road conditions for major Missouri highways. Conditions for major routes across the state are color-coded to give visitors the information they need at a glance. Travelers can also call MoDOT’s toll-free number, 888-ASK-MODOT, to get road condition information.

So, grab your shovel and get ready…we are. Arrive Alive.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Got a Minute?

This week's MoDOT Minute shares some great news about Missouri's reduction in traffic fatalities and how living history will be traveling through the state very soon.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Personal

When it comes to transportation, it's personal. Whether we realize it or not, transportation affects the lives of each of us. It's much more than driving or using public transit. It's about your child's soccer shoes ordered online with the expectation of delivery, or the groceries you need to grab on the way home. It's the connections that keep businesses up and running. Transportation not only moves us, it makes the movement of goods and services possible.

It's our connection to work, safety and economic growth.

MoDOT Director Kevin Keith presented the personal side of transportation today at the 2011 Missouri Conference on Transportation. Missouri organizations like the Farm Bureau, State Highway Patrol, Transportation Alliance and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry gathered to discuss meeting the demands of a diverse population, ensuring economic growth and global competitiveness.

Keith pointed out that it really comes down to two choices. Door number one opens to the choice of doing nothing - Missourians lose the transportation gains we've made, such as smooth roads and fewer fatalities than seen in the last 50 years. We watch roads and bridges get worse, and find ourselves with the inability to attract and retain vital businesses.

Or, there's door number two. That door opens to finding a way to invest in infrastructure -- building better roads, and providing literal and figurative bridges to improve our economy.

It's a challenge in today's political and economical environment, but a plan of action is needed.

Which door will you choose?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Great Time to Arrive Alive

Yesterday was a great day to Arrive Alive in Missouri. Several hundred of us gathered together on the court at the Mizzou Arena in Columbia to celebrate the 436 lives saved last year on Missouri roads, due to the partnering efforts of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. With the economy and all the negative things that happen, it’s not often we get to hear or celebrate positive news – so it’s refreshing to concentrate on the fact that we are making positive changes in our state.

In fact, due to changes we’ve made and a lot of people working together, we’ve reduced roadway fatalities from 1,257 in 2005 to 821 in 2010. That means 1,538 people made it home to their families who otherwise might not have, and this is an overall decrease of 35 percent. The coalition, of which MoDOT is a partner, set a goal of 850 deaths or fewer by the end of 2012, and we actually met that goal two years early!

The coalition credits a combination of law enforcement, educational efforts, emergency medical services, engineering enhancements and public policy as the successful formula for saving lives. In 2007, Missouri recorded fewer than 1,000 fatalities for the first time in more than 15 years. This allowed the coalition to meet an ambitious goal one year early. In October 2008, the coalition announced a new goal for traffic fatality reductions at 850 or less by 2012. The last time Missouri reached less than 850 fatalities was 1949.

Besides law enforcement and education, other measures aimed at decreasing fatalities and serious injuries for this year include focusing on topics like run-off road crashes, distracted driving, impaired driving, and new engineering solutions for decreasing traffic crashes.

For more information, visit Buckle Up to Arrive Alive.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Told Congress

As Congress begins work on a new transportation bill, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has launched a social media campaign to generate your thoughts about what the priorities should be.

They are looking for anyone who is affected by transportation in the U.S. (and that's everyone!) to participate and offer your input. Share your comments and concerns at

The campaign is designed to give America's transportation users a voice in the debate about how to fund and shape the nation's federal highway and transit programs.

So what do you have to say?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Way To Go!

You did it!  Thanks to your votes and your support, Missouri won Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure and their legendary steam locomotive will now travel to more than 60 stops in the state. The steam train brings out thousands of rail fans and kids of all ages to see a living piece of American history.

After participants voted more than 178,000 times in the final round, the winning route is the Little Rock Express. It edged the Tuscola Turn by 3,042 votes to win.

Look for the actual dates of the excursion in the coming weeks on UP's facebook page, the Missouri River Runner facebook page, or check back here. Thanks for routing the steam!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More CMV Drivers are Buckling Up

Professional drivers are leading by example. The buckle-up rate for Missouri CMV drivers is up to 80.6 percent while 76 percent of other drivers make it click.

Tanker, bus, double trailer, box and flat trailer haulers are the shining stars in the seat belt survey. Dump truck drivers' still have a lot of clicking to do – their seat belt usage was the lowest at 57.5 percent.

Federal motor carrier regulations make failure to use a seat belt a primary enforcement offense - meaning that an officer can pull a driver over for no other reason than the lack of belt use. A seat belt citation can be costly and affect both drivers' and companies' federal safety scores.

Commercial motor vehicle drivers spend entire work days behind the wheel. With so much time spent in their vehicle, it's important that they protect themselves by buckling up. Seven out of 10 Missourians killed in traffic crashes are unbuckled.

The safest place for you to be in a crash is behind a buckled safety belt. Besides keeping you from smashing around the cab – or ejecting and being crushed – during a crash, it keeps you in a position to possibly regain control and avoid secondary collisions - so even more travelers get to Arrive Alive.

Safety is primary. So is the seat belt regulation for commercial drivers. Buckle up and Arrive Alive.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bring a Union Pacific Steam Train to Missouri!

There are only three days left for you to vote to route the steam to Missouri. That's right! You have an opportunity to bring a Union Pacific Steam Train to more than 60 Missouri communities. The steam train brings of rail fans and kids of all ages to see a living piece of American history right here at home.

Want to see it for yourself? Vote today for the "Little Rock Express," and voters can continue to vote each day. You can even encourage your friends to vote by sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter!

Voting continues through midnight on January 17. Vote today to route the steam!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Parent's Nightmare

“Sure, honey, I can take all four of our kids to the store with me.” 

Yeah, I am a glutton for punishment. 

Levi rides in the cart until he sees the toys.  Emma opens the cookies and I end up paying for an empty box.  Zoe doesn’t understand why we can’t buy every single item she lays her eyes on.  Noah, well, he just wants to be anywhere else on the planet than the store.  It’s chaos, but we usually make it through unscathed.

I move fast down the aisles, making periodic checks on all four kids.  Levi: check.  Noah: check.  Zoe: check.  Emma.   Emma?  She was on my right!  Where is she?!  The panic slaps me in the face.  Every other thought flushes from my brain and the heat pulses through my body.  My heart leaps and my stomach sinks.  As a parent, a protector, the shock of loss is primal.  The horror of the moment reaches from the depths and squeezes.

It’s always the same vision:  a stranger, with my baby, heading out the front door.  In a moment, they’re gone.  Forever.

My physical reactions and mental breakdown seem to last an eternity, but really it’s only one or two seconds.  I turn around.  Emma strolls a few feet behind, eating cookies, oblivious to the slobbering mess her father has become.  My chest loosens and the ghastly thoughts melt away.

But what if I turned around and she wasn’t there?  What if my worst fears became all too real and she was just… gone?

It’s something no parent should have to face.  Yet it is a reality and MoDOT plays a vital role in helping find abducted children.  MoDOT uses its permanent electronic message boards along Interstates 70 and 44, as well as in St. Louis and Kansas City, to post Amber Alerts.

The AMBER Alert program was created in 1996 following the abduction of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman in Arlington, Texas. The purpose of the plan is to provide a rapid response to the most serious child abduction cases.  Since its creation, the AMBER Alert program is credited with the successful recovery of 523 children.
January 13th is AMBER Alert Awareness Day.  This is a time to remind people about the program and help make sure that when a parent’s momentary panic becomes real, we have a line of defense to get their child back.

Written by Mark Baumgartner, Multimedia Services

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Emergency Markers Make for a Still Merry Christmas

It was a cold evening on Dec. 23, and my husband, my three small children and I along with our big, red dog, luggage and Christmas gifts were all packed tightly into our minivan and traveling on Interstate 70 to visit relatives. I was enjoying my early Christmas gift of a personal DVD player with the headphones on (have you ever traveled with small kids?), when my husband tapped my shoulder and informed me that our vehicle had um, well, quit working. So with children screaming, and the dog barking, I called roadside assistance for help and when they asked us exactly where we were. The one happy moment in this whole situation was that I was able to look out my window and read the information off the nearest emergency reference marker.

Roadside reference markers originally were installed on 1,200 miles of Missouri interstates in 2006 to replace older markers and to save time, money and most importantly- lives!

The markers provide the road’s name and direction of travel, information that the old mile markers lacked. The signs are installed every 0.2 miles, as opposed to every mile, to provide motorists more accurate location information in emergency situations. The markers also replace the white reflective posts, which were installed every 0.1 mile. The new signs are larger, more durable and reflective and require less maintenance, which will save the department money and improve safety.

Thankfully, ours wasn’t an emergency situation, but as many travelers have found, these markers are a big help in emergencies. Emergency responders have been able to get to incidents more quickly thanks to the information from these markers.

Overall, the new markers also save MoDOT maintenance costs because the department will use only half as many devices, which means fewer obstacles to mow around and less maintenance work needed. In addition, the new signs are expected to last up to 10 years, compared to the average two-year life expectancy of the old signs.

Missouri was one of the first states in the nation to make extensive use of these markers, but other states are now using them in growing numbers.

So while Christmas 2010 will still go down as being one of the most expensive holidays ever in our family’s history (due to vehicle repairs and not gifts), it was still a merry one thanks to getting where we needed to be safely.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snow Shoveling Secrets

Once should be enough when it comes to shoveling snow out of your driveway after a winter storm. Unfortunately, that snow can end up re-deposited across your driveway entrance when snowplows begin to clear your street. Here's a simple solution to help you avoid a second round of shoveling.

Missouri Miles

Do you know what a J-Turn is and how it can help you?
Many of you had to do some shoveling as we ended 2010, but do you know the best way to shovel your driveway so you don't have to shovel twice?
Check out what's been happening on Missouri Miles as we kick off 2011.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

To the Point

The Missouri-made TowPLow continues to gain recognition as an innovation. What is it and how does it help your commute? Listen as MoDOT's System Management Director Don Hillis gets "To the Point" about how this unique plow is quickly becoming an important asset in the snow removal process in Missouri and across the nation.

To the Point