Thursday, March 31, 2011

Have You Seen This Barrel?

As more work zones pop up in Missouri, be on the lookout for Barrel Bob. Bob is MoDOT's latest work zone spokesbarrel, and has quite a travel schedule coming up. He'll be visiting work zones across the state, warning drivers to slow down in work zones and bringing attention to the importance of work zone safety. You'll see alot more of Bob in the coming weeks, especially with Work Zone Awareness Week beginning next Monday.

At eleven feet tall, he shouldn't go unnoticed. But if you want to follow his wherabouts, catch the inside scoop on his facebook page

You'll likely hear him on the radio, too. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Take Action

This is a guest post by MoDOT Director Kevin Keith about the personal side of transportation.

It's personal.

Transportation is personal to every Missourian every day. It affects our safety, our jobs, our businesses and our ability to see our families, go to the doctor or buy groceries. Transportation touches everyone.

The transportation lifeline we enjoy is in jeopardy.

Funding for transportation in Missouri has been cut in half. Our budget for building and taking care of state highways has dropped from 1.2 billion to 600 million. That is the best-case scenario. It could get a lot worse.

MoDOT has tightened its belt and is continuing to do so. We have squeezed every penny out of every dollar we receive. Now is the time for Missourians to take action and make a decision about investing in transportation.

I need your help.

With your help we can make the point to employees, friends, family, neighbors, elected officials and the news media that transportation is personal and we must invest in it at a greater level. Please get involved.

We will be communicating the "It's Personal" message statewide in the coming months. If you would like a MoDOT representative in your area to speak, please let us know. To schedule a speaking engagement, call 1-888-ASK MoDOT (275-6636) or fill out an online request form at

I encourage you to take action. Help me spread this important message. You can learn more at

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Get "To the Point" with MoDOT Director Kevin Keith

Want to hear about MoDOT’s plans straight from the director? No problem. Just subscribe and listen as MoDOT Director Kevin Keith gets “To the Point” with Community Relations Coordinator Jorma Duran in a brief, weekly interview on what’s happening at your department of transportation.

“To the Point” is a collection of Q&A interviews that cover the hot topics affecting MoDOT, from the new five-year direction to maintenance, construction projects and financing. The podcasts are available at or on iTunes. An extensive archive of all the previous recordings is also available so you can pick and chose the subjects that interest you most. To get started, look for the “MoDOT Podcast” button in the right hand navigation of the MoDOT homepage at or click on the podcast icon at the top of the page.

Listening to these podcasts is perhaps the easiest way to keep up with MoDOT events. I mean, all you have to do is click the play button. You can listen to the podcasts at home, at work, in your car or online. Whatever time works best for you.

MoDOT wants you to be a part of Missouri’s transportation solutions. There’s no easier way to do that than to sit back and get the scoop straight from the source.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shipping Begins!

When my family goes floating, it seems like we're packing lots of supplies. Between the sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and plenty of snacks to keep the kids happy, I sometimes feel like we're our own little barge as we paddle down the river.

But to look at the quantities of what is moved during the Missouri River's shipping season shows how they certainly have my family beat.

This week, Jefferson City's River Terminal expects to receive 6,000 tons of cement. AGRIServices of Brunswick will start pushing more than 9,000 tons of fertilizer up the Missouri River, and Hermann Sand and Gravel plans to start moving freight late this week.

So begins the unofficial start of the 2011 shipping season!

While the official start is April 1, Kevin Holcer of AgriServices is confident about starting early.

"The water levels are good enough to get our shipping season started early, and we expect to be busy though mid-December," Holcer said. "Last year's success brought us good momentum, and we don't want to slow down."

Last year, about 334,000 tons of goods were shipped on the Missouri River, a 24 percent increase from the year before. Shipping this way can save money, is more friendly to the environment and relieves stress on highways. One barge equals the same amount of cargo that fits into 70 semi-trucks or 16 rail cars.

I wonder how many canoe's worth of goldfish crackers and juice boxes it holds.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Are You a Regular?

Are you a regular visitor to MoDOT’s web site? Do you keep up with the latest transportation news and events? Are you a contractor checking on recent changes and postings? Do you want to keep up with commodities bidding opportunities?

Now there’s a way to keep in touch with updates to MoDOT’s site without even getting on the Internet.

A new web page subscription service allows you to subscribe to hundreds of individual pages on MoDOT’s web site and receive notifications when changes are made.

Want to get started? Look for the red envelope at the right-hand corner of the page where you want to subscribe. Whenever a change is made to that page, you’ll receive a notice letting you know.

You can choose to receive these notifications by email or as a text message on your mobile device. An active link is included in the message so all you have to do is click it and go straight to the page.

The service is invaluable for keeping up with news pages, road condition updates, commodities bidding, project info and a lot more.

Keep your finger on the pulse of Missouri transportation. Subscribe today!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Leprechaun Dash

If you're celebrating with a green beverage this St. Patty's Day, make sure you have a sober driver. Otherwise, be prepared to part with your gold!

Try your luck at this driving game and see how your driving rates when buzzed.

MoDOT Gets Personal with Transportation

Transportation is not just about cars, trucks, roads and bridges. It’s about communities, neighborhoods and families. It’s about you.

In fact, you might say, it’s personal.

If you flick a light switch, you expect the light to come on. When it doesn’t, there’s a problem. When you drive down a highway, you expect it to be safe and in good repair. When it’s not…

I can tell you that MoDOT’s budget has been cut in half. I can tell you what that means to Missouri roads and bridges. But the light switch probably won’t come on until you’re driving down a state route and hit a pot hole. It probably won’t come on until local businesses start to leave Missouri and take their jobs to a state with better infrastructure.

That’s when the transportation funding problem walks into your living room. That’s when it becomes personal.

MoDOT is sharing this message with a new web site that helps people understand how personal transportation can be. Go to and watch the videos. Listen to individuals whose lives have been affected by transportation. Their stories are about jobs, convenience and safety. Some are heart breaking.

These people are your neighbors, your friends, your family. They are you.

As our highways and bridges deteriorate, as traffic backs up and businesses move to smoother roads, remember that you’re the one who can change things.

Transportation funding is not some vague problem that will fix itself in time. It’s the road in front of your house, the connections between your cities, the rivers and rails that carry food to your table. Transportation is not someone else’s problem.

It’s personal.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wearing Seat Belts Pays Off

In addition to potentially saving their life, getting caught wearing a seat belt on Friday, March 11 had a second payoff for some lucky Missouri high school students.

More than 200 students received a $25 gift card for being spotted buckling up and displaying a Buckle Up & Win window cling. More than 175,000 window clings were distributed at Missouri high schools in preparation for Seat Belt Spotter Day on March 11. Students were asked to put them on their cars and buckle up. It was that easy to win.

Seat Belt Spotter Day was part of the youth seat belt campaign that kicked off this month. The campaign pairs education and enforcement to get more teens to buckle up. Teen seat belt use in Missouri is only 66 percent, much lower than state (76 percent) and national (85 percent) seat belt use.

Law enforcement will be out in full force the remainder of the month looking for teens who aren’t buckled up. They won’t be handing out $25 gift cards – they’ll be handing out tickets.

Buckle up!

Missouri Miles

In this month's Missouri Miles, we take a look back at the historic snow storm that hit the state Feb. 1, when snow plow trucks logged 1.1 million miles. We also explain that flashing yellow light you may have seen popping up at Missouri intersections. Then, hop inside the cab of a Missouri truck driver as we continue our truckers on the street series. Don't miss these stories and much more on Missouri Miles!

Friday, March 11, 2011


I've heard that more and more people now sleep with their cell phones. Is that true? If so, it seems that cell phones are becoming more of a connection for people -- it's not just their phone, it's their e-mail, web access, camera and much more.

Connections are a lifeline. They keep us tied in with the things most important to us -- friends, family, work and play. But to maintain those connections, you need more than just your phone - you need to be able to get around.

And that's where transportation comes in. It's easy to overlook -- after all, it seems like it's pretty much always there. But what if it wasn't? Or what if it wasn't as safe?

The Missourians in this video understand the connection that transportation provides. Watch below to see how transportation affects us all personally, no matter what kind of phone you use.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Calling All Shoppers

Retail stores are gearing up for their spring sales. More and more homes are starting to put the 'for sale' sign in their yard. And many people are also gearing up for garage sales as the weather gets warmer.  All of these are sure signs of spring!

MoDOT is getting the spring sale bug as well. Mark your calendars for the spring property sale March 28 - April 1. Thirty-nine parcels ranging in size from one-tenth of an acre to 199 acres will be available for purchase by either auction or sealed bid.

Why the sale?

"While we no longer need this land, the parcels we're selling are valuable, and we're trying to find that right buyer," said Gregory Wood, Realty to Roads Project Director in MoDOT's Right of Way Division.

In addition to brining in money for highway projects, Wood said selling excess right of way saves maintenance costs, reduces liability and puts the property  back on the tax rolls to the advantage of local communities.

Check out the Realty to Roads website or facebook page for more information, and happy shopping!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to the Adopt-A-Highway program! It began in Texas on March 9, 1985, and Missouri's program began in 1987. Now, more than 5,800 miles of Missouri roads have been adopted, making our state cleaner and greener.

And, it's saving you money! Adopters perform about $1 million a year in litter cleanup and beautification efforts. Every area kept free of litter by adopters allows MoDOT to devote resources to other much-needed tasks.

The celebration really begins in April, when MoDOT parters with the Missouri Department of Conservation in the annual No MOre Trash! Bash. Here, adopters and citizens organize litter pick-up events and help to promote awareness about keeping our state clean. Don't miss being a part of this year's bash!

Check out this video for a fun take on keeping Missouri clean:

Never Say Never

I can remember when I first got my driver’s license and I used to get so annoyed with my mother when she’d say, “Drive carefully!” Like I wasn’t going to? Besides I knew that I was a good driver and I would never get in a wreck…until I did. Luckily for me, I was buckled that night. Unfortunately, other Missouri teens aren’t so lucky and seven out of 10 teens killed in Missouri traffic crashes are unbuckled.

That’s why the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety is launching a new campaign, called “Never Say Never,” aimed at youth to get them to buckle up. Just like everything in life, anything can happen. Teens are getting in their cars to head to school, sporting events, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs and other events that fill their social calendars. Unfortunately, teens have the highest crash risk and lowest seat belt use of any age group.

That combination is deadly, yet far too many teens still think they are invincible. Because of this feeling of invincibility, teen seat belt use in Missouri is only 66 percent, much lower than state (76 percent) and national (85 percent) seat belt use.

The new teen seat belt campaign takes aim at this ‘it will never happen to me’ attitude. The campaign uses photos of crashed vehicles with phrases like “I”ll never wreck my car” and “I’ll never get hurt.” Then the campaign drives home the message “Never Say Never. Buckle Up.”

The campaign is just one of the new strategies for increasing seat belt use in Missouri. Law enforcement will also mobilize in March to enforce the seat belt law. Under the Graduated Driver License Law, teens are required to wear their seat belt and it’s a primary offense, meaning they can be pulled over solely for not wearing their seat belt.

Other strategies for increasing teen seat belt use include working with schools to revoke high school parking permits for students who don’t buckle up and rewarding students who do.

A teen seat belt observational survey in April will determine if the new strategies have increased Missouri’s teen seat belt use. Buckle Up and Arrive Alive.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Changing of the Chair

Commission Chair Grace Nichols

Yesterday, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission elected Grace Nichols, St. Charles, as its chair for a one-year term.  The former chair, Rudy Farber, Neosho, will serve as vice-chair.
Nichols has served on the commission since March of 2008.  Farber was appointed to the commission in March 2007. 

"My focus will be on supporting the department in its efforts to provide a high level of service while getting smaller and curbing services, necessitated by reduced funding levels from the gasoline tax and federal programs," Nichols said.  "We must show Missourians that transportation is a personal issue that affects them every day and is in need of additional funding."

Until her appointment to the commission, Nichols was a Senior Circuit Judge in St. Charles County and was also mayor of St. Charles for two terms - elected in 1987 and again in 1991. Prior to her public service, she spent many years in private law practice, in addition to active involvement in business, civic and arts groups.  

Vice Chair Rudy Farber
Farber is chairman of the board of Community Bank & Trust in Neosho.

Other commission members are David Gach, St. Joseph; Joe Carmichael, Springfield; Stephen Miller, Kansas City and Kenneth Suelthaus, St. Louis.

More information about Nichols is published in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

MoDOT Cares a Whole Awful Lot

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss! Schools across the country are celebrating the famous author of whimsical, rhyming children’s stories with a national day of reading. I have fond memories of reading his stories to my children because of the powerful life lessons he portrayed in such a magical way.

Looking back through his messages, one is particularly relevant where MoDOT employees are concerned. In his book “The Lorax” he wrote, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

With the economy in a slow recovery, many Missourians have faced tough times and have needed a helping hand. A part of that help has come through the annual Missouri State Employees Charitable Campaign.

MoDOT employees showed that they care “a whole awful lot” by giving the most contributions among all state agencies again – the fourth year in a row. Plus with a contribution of $202,682, MoDOT became the first agency ever to give more than $200,000 in two consecutive years.

Altogether, Missouri state employees raised more than $1 million for local, state and national non-profit organizations during the campaign. When people show they care in these kinds of ways, it’s surely a good sign of hope for better days!