Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Color Update

As the weather cools, it looks like Missourians are in for some beautiful fall drives.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has put out a report on the color you can expect to see in your area. Those of you in the Ozark area are in for a special treat this season.

So where will you head? What are your favorite fall drives in Missouri? No matter where you travel, be sure to stay alert, buckle up and Arrive Alive.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hungry Bugs

They are tiny, tireless, hungry, and environmentally friendly – except to one invasive weed.
           They’re called seedhead weevils, and the Missouri departments of Transportation and Conservation, along with the University of Missouri – Extension, are using them to help control Missouri's newest noxious weed – spotted knapweed.  The weevils, Larinus minutus and Larinus obtusus or "Larrys" as some researchers like to call them, are small, flying, dark brown or gray bugs with a long snout.  They can spread throughout a knapweed patch in a few years. 
           "Knapweed infestations occur in poor soils along rock cuts and steep slopes, and the weed produces an herbicide within its roots that kills nearby plants," explained MoDOT Roadside Manager Chris Shulse. 
           This noxious weed resembles the garden flower called bachelor’s buttons. Although pretty, if knapweed is not controlled, it can spread onto private lawns and pastures, where it significantly reduces the available forage. Knapweed is hard to eliminate with herbicides alone because it grows in difficult to reach areas, often extending beyond the roadside onto private property. 
MoDOT began to release the weevils on roadsides in southern Missouri in 2008 and in northeast Missouri in 2009. They are typically released in July when knapweed is in bloom so the females can lay eggs on the flowers. When the eggs hatch, the larvae go to work, eating the flower and seeds, reducing the plant’s ability to reproduce. A single larva can eat every seed in a flower.
A second knapweed-controlling weevil, the root-boring Cyphocleonus achates, or “Cy” is larger and doesn’t fly well. Its color helps it blend into rocky ground. These insects are released in August, when females lay eggs on young knapweed plants. The larvae burrow into the roots, causing the plant to die within a few years. Researchers documented reductions as high as 99 percent in knapweed patches where “Cy” took up residence.
           In addition to the 2009 release, MoDOT introduced the hungry bugs to infested areas last month.
“Although it will take a few years for the weevil populations to increase enough to make a difference, our tiny partners will no doubt play an important role in suppressing knapweed,” Shulse said.

MoDOT Minute

Your MoDOT Minute for this week discusses repairs to damaged roads in Northwest Missouri due to flooding, as well as results from the The HEAT Is On campaign:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Three E's

Engineering ...
Enforcement ...
Education ...

These three things are used successfully by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety to keep traffic fatality levels at a level not seen since 1950. Today, the Governor's Highway Safety Association recognized MoDOT as a leader in that success.

MoDOT received the Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Award for spearheading the safety coalition that has realized a decrease in traffic fatalities and disabling injuries for the past five years. Traffic fatalities in Missouri have decreased by 35 percent since 2005 and the trend continues downward. To date in 2011, traffic fatalities are down by 11 percent.

For more information on how MoDOT has worked to improve highway safety in Missouri, visit

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Car Seat Check Saturday

It's National Car Seat Check Saturday! Check today for a list of where you can have your car seat checked by a certified technician.

Three out of four seats are not installed correctly -- make sure the seat carrying your most precious cargo is not one of them.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Flood of 2011

The Flood of 2011 has been like nothing any other Missouri River states have ever experienced.  Unlike other historic floods which rose and fell within weeks, this time the water flowed continuously over -- and in many cases under -- the Northwest and Kansas City Area Districts' highways for months. Entire sections of shoulder, pavement and foundation washed away in some areas.

Now, we're working to get flooded routes open as quickly and safely as possible by the end of 2011.

One of the first big steps began Wednesday with the start of emergency contract repairs in Atchison County on Route 136. This is the first of a two-phase project that will be necessary to restore access completely across Route 136 where four large gaps exist. Three of the gaps should be fixed by October 15. The fourth gap is a 600-foot scour hole, but damages cannot be assessed until waters recede.

"We are committed to doing everything possible to get these roads opened as quickly and safely as possible for Missourians," said Don Wichern, MoDOT's Northwest District engineer. "In some areas we are still waiting for waters to recede, but we are spending every available minute planning how to repair and reopen these roads so we can all move forward."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Would you let your child ride on the top of your car? Not likely. And yet so many parents allow children to ride inside a car without being safely buckled -- and many of them may not even know it.

Three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly. How confident are you about yours?

This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week. It's a perfect time to take a moment and get your seat checked. Find a technician near you in Missouri.

Or, visit one of the events held this Saturday for Car Seat Check Saturday.

Taking a few moments to make sure your seat is installed correctly could be life-saving for your most precious cargo.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Can You Do Better?

Hey high school students! Check out this video working to convince teens to buckle up. It won last year's Battle of the Belt Challenge.

Think you can do better? Show us! Sign up today for the Battle of the Belt Challenge for this fall and put your cinematic skills to work.  Who knows? There's more than prizes at stake -- if your video convinces a friend to buckle up, you may save a life.

Make it click by clicking here!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sept. 11-17 is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week

Look around. Really. Turn away from the screen for a minute and look around the room.

Chances are, the vast majority of items you see were hauled by truck at some point. Flooring, concrete, mail, paint, furniture, light bulbs, clothing, chairs, pens and snacks – it sat behind a truck driver.

Truckers drive 400 billion miles a year in the United States. Most of the time, you never notice them. That’s actually the goal. If you don’t notice them, it’s because the driver is operating safely and courteously.

If you are lucky enough to know a professional driver, ask them about the challenges and joys of the job. There are plenty of both. And no one spins a story quite like a truck driver.

So if you have the chance this week, wave or smile to thank the truck drivers you see. Everyone likes acknowledgement for good work.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Safest Driving Cities

Springfield, Mo., is one of the safest cities in the nation for drivers.

The Allstate Insurance Company released their 7th annual Allstate America's Best Drivers Report. It ranks the nation's 200 largest cities in terms of car collision frequency to identify which cities have the safest drivers.

Springfield ranks seventh, with the average driver going 12 years without collisions.

Springfield has completed several major projects that help keep traffic moving smoothly. The nation's first diverging diamond interchange opened in 2009, with a second opening in July 2010. The award-winning, innovative design helps relieve congestion in a tight area, keeping drivers safer.

This week, Springfield opened the first six-lane highway in southern Missouri on Route 65. The project added a lane in each direction in the median, with a 7-foot-wide median shoulder and a concrete barrier separating the northbound and southbound sides. These improvements will keep traffic moving and motorists even safer.

Based on your travels in the state, which city would you say had the best or worst drivers?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Are We There Yet?

A recent survey of Missouri motorists shows that more Missourians are buckling up - that's great news!

But are we where we need to be?

The national average for seat belt use is 85 percent -- even with the recent three-percent jump in Missouri, we're still at 79 percent.  How comfortable are we to know that 21 percent of motorists in our state face ejection from their vehicle if a traffic crash occurs?

Some vehicle types stand out when looking at seat belt use. For example, pickup truck drivers are among the worst with only 66 percent buckling up. Considering those rockin' trucks also have an affinity to roll, that makes quite a bumpy ride (or flight) for that unrestrained driver.

MoDOT continues to support the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety to support seat belt use and work to make sure everyone makes it click when they hit the road. A primary seat belt law would likely raise our percentage and save lives - 32 states already have this.

In the meantime, make sure you and your passengers are buckled every trip, every time. Learn more about seat belt safety in Missouri at

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New and Improved

On Friday, children, families and teachers in Bevier celebrated a safer walk to school.

Through the Safe Routes to School program, the City of Bevier was able to construct needed sidewalks to keep students from walking in the street to get to school. This is a tremendous improvement in safety for these students.

The purpose of the Safe Routes to School program is to enable and encourage more children to walk and bike to school across Missouri. Why is this important? Besides reduced traffic around schools and a healthier lifestyle for the children, the students list one more important reason: it's fun!

Learn more about how Safe Routes to School can get your community moving!

Walking to school can be fun for both students and families!

Bevier now has a safer, more appealing way to get to school.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Livable Streets

In August, 2011 MoDOT in Kansas City hosted the Livable Streets Design Workshop led by nationally known expert Bruce Landis.

On Aug. 25, architects, engineers and planners from MoDOT and communities across the Kansas City District sat down as one transportation group to talk about what it means to build Livable Streets at the Best Practices in Bicycle Pedestrian Design workshop.

Across the country, more communities recognize that drivers are not the only type of transportation, and in fact, more citizens request the safe sidewalks, bike routes and transit options that fit their lifestyle.

In May, the Missouri House of Representatives passed the Complete Streets Resolution, urging cities, communities and state transportation to consider bikers, pedestrians and transit users whenever they planned transportation projects. The Best Practices in Bicycle Pedestrian Design workshop, hosted in partnership with MU Extension, focused on just that -- making streets that accommodate any mode of transportation.

The all-day workshop featured internationally known Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner and Engineer Bruce Landis. His presentation included strategies to make neighborhoods, retail districts and other community settings more walkable, bikable and accessible to all.

“This program was designed to let planners look at a street objectively and see, based on what is going on in the roadway environment, exactly how to design a livable street,” said Landis.

One of the things discussed was what makes a street more livable? It could be as simple as sidewalks and crosswalks. But planners also consider wheelchair ramps, bicycle paths, mixed-use paths that may host joggers and dog walkers alike, bus stops, or even paved shoulders in a rural area.

Several locations joined the workshop via webinar, including Jefferson City, St. Louis District Office, Northeast District, Southeast District Office, Northwest District Office, Southwest District Office and Macon. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Troubled Waters

Find flooding detour information at

Flooding and detours continue in Northwest Missouri. Eleven weeks after Interstate 29 first closed, it still remains closed at Rock Port.

The four states affected by long-term flooding continue to work together to route travelers around the high water. Missouri has partnered with Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska to create a regional detour that can be found on MoDOT's website at It also provides information on the latest road closures with a link to the Traveler Information Map.

It will take time to get these roads back in shape, but MoDOT monitors the roads as water recedes to assess damage and begin repairs.

If these routes are part of your holiday weekend travels, be sure to check the detours before you go. And play it safe! Drive sober, buckle up and slow down.