Friday, July 12, 2013

Paging Dr. Bridges

Central Missouri motorists might see a tricked-out van similar to this driving on and around bridges.

It belongs to a company called Penetradar. They use ground-penetrating radar to evaluate pavement - as in this image from their website. It's also great for analyzing bridge decks.

Think of it as a giant CAT scan or MRI. Back in the day, doctors often operated with minimal information - maybe an X-ray and a list of symptoms. Surgery was measured in hours and recovery in weeks. Now before surgery, doctors and technicians gather information so they know what they'll face in the operating room. Some surgeries are down to minutes and often patients go home the same day.

MoDOT is planning to start some bridge work in the Columbia area soon, so the van is gathering data. That information will help identify issues within the bridge that need addressing before a single cut is made in the pavement.

That helps the repair contractor. They'll know what they are facing before they open the surface. Fewer surprises make for less stressful, more profitable work.

It helps MoDOT. Fewer surprises make for fewer last-minute (often expensive) fixes and keep work zone time to a minimum.

But most of all, it helps motorists. When a contractor knows what they'll face, they can "operate" and get out of drivers' way more quickly.

Now...this will only hurt a little bit...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monster Trucks: Hugenormous Edition

So, say you have some natural gas lying around and you want to extract hydrocarbon liquids from it. 

You're going to need a demethanizer tower. Problem is, those towers are huge and must be built in one shot. On site assembly of smaller parts isn't possible. 

How do you get it from the manufacturing plant to your site?

You call an oversize/overweight load specialty motor carrier. These pros work with MoDOT to determine a safe route, design a trailer/tire layout that distributes the weight evenly and ensure the load can safely travel all the bridges, exits and corners on the route.

In many cases, the carrier also contacts the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Troopers assist in escorting the largest and/or most complicated movements. 

This demethanizer load was 12' wide, 15' 3" tall and 240' long
from bumper to bumper. (A football field is 300' long.)
From centuries-old houses to manufacturing equipment to wind turbine elements, MoDOT and the Patrol have assisted in thousands of safe trips.  

It takes time, patience and some expense to arrange such a move, but it sure beats trying to build a demethanizer tower from scratch!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Work Zone Safety - From a Widow's Perspective

A plea - from the wife of Dennis Beard, who was killed in an Illinois work zone in 2012. Let her words sound in your ears any time you see construction or flashing yellow lights.

This (click to see photos) is my husband, Dennis. The most important part of his life was his family and friends. Second was his work. Dennis was very passionate about his work, the people who worked for him, and their safety and well being. On May 22nd Dennis, his nephews Kory Links and Adam Evans, and his friend Brian Moore were all struck by a vehicle while doing their jobs. Dennis was killed by this driver whom was driving dangerously and erratically at a high rate of speed in a construction zone. Dennis was not killed instantly, but lived a very short while, alert and thinking he was going to survive. Because of one person's negligence, Dennis' precious life was taken from us and the lives of his family have been changed forever.

I cannot explain the devastation this has caused our family. We lost our dear Dennis - a husband, a father, a son, a brother, an uncle, a great-uncle, a cousin, and a friend to many, many people. If you just try to imagine what it would be like to have to come home and tell your children who walk in the door smiling that their dad was just killed at work - you would think about how IMPORTANT it is to pay attention and slow down in work zones. Our family will never be the same because of the constant pain we feel and the huge hole we now have in our family and hearts.

Please let me tell you a little bit about Dennis. Most importantly, Dennis was not ready to leave this earth. He had many things left unfinished. He has three children - Tessa age 12, James 8, and Alayna 4. He just recently involved his children and nephews in go-kart racing. Dennis spent every waking hour outside of work working on the go-karts for the next following week’s race. He loved the outdoors and wanted his kids to love it too. He took them boating, camping, hunting, snowmobiling, four-wheeling, racing, and most recently they began fishing together. Dennis had a big heart and was always very giving to everyone he knew and met.

The single most important thing that you can do for our family and other families who have loved ones working on the roads is to be patient, pay attention, and slow down in construction zones. Everyone wants their loved ones to return home every single day from work. My husband left for work and was gone from this earth three hours later. We didn’t even have a chance to say good bye.

Josie Beard

See pictures of Dennis, Josie and their family here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Work Zone Safety - Why It's a Big Deal

April 15-19 is Work Zone Awareness Week for 2013.

We tend to think EVERY week is Work Zone Awareness Week at MoDOT. Just like everyone else, we want to get home safe at the end of our workday. We'll do whatever it takes to help make that happen.

In our work, we see too many times what happens when someone behaves in an unsafe manner. We've been called to thousands of crash scenes to help direct traffic while emergency crews and law enforcement assist injured motorists.

We've been the first to respond when a car or truck slams into one of our dump trucks. We've called 911 or *55 when an inattentive driver plows into the back of someone observing a slower work zone speed limit. We've held the hands of our dying coworkers and promised to relay their messages of love to their spouses and families.

That's why it's a big deal.

Now that you know the impact of unsafe behavior, we hope you make safe driving in work zones - and everywhere else - a big deal.

Monday, April 15, 2013

In His Own Words: Help Us Make it Home

Clifton Scott's story is riveting. 

Clifton worked for MoDOT a long time, starting with our highway crews. He was very upset by a work zone crash that occurred in 2001 and in an interview with KMBC TV- 9 of Kansas City, he issued a plea to motorists.

Last fall, as he worked the scene of a crash as a Motorist Assist operator, a speeding driver struck and killed Clifton. 

His haunting words serve as a reminder. 

When you see a highway worker - or a utility crew member, law enforcement, tow truck operators or anyone else rendering service on or near a road - pay extra attention. Take extra care. 

Do it out of kindness. Do it because you respect their service. Do it because you know that they, like you, just want to make it home.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Anita's Close Call Story - That Little Voice

Anita of Springfield, Mo., asked to share her story. It sounds familiar to many of us who have struggled with the temptation to multi-task while driving. If you have a story about transportation that you would like to share, please contact us at

It was a typical Tuesday; the work day is over and like a lot of families it’s time to hustle the kids to evening activities. I pick up my son around 5:30 pm and head to the high school. He wants to go to the game. I need to pick my daughter up at 6:00 pm from dance class so the timing is just right. After dropping him off at the game it’s onto dance. Taking Battlefield Road to Highway 65 seems to be the logical route so that’s the direction I choose. Lots of traffic, stop and go, it’s evening rush hour. Bummer, this is going to take awhile.

To pass the time I decide to make a call. I’ll just maneuver through traffic while chatting, something I do often, and the 10 minute drive to dance class won’t seem so daunting. I grab my phone. But as I’m turning onto the exit ramp, a little voice in my head suggests I probably should pay attention to what I’m doing. It’s not like I had anything earth shattering to discuss, so I toss the phone down onto the passenger seat.

I merge onto Highway 65, within seconds traffic is up to full speed. Bumper to bumper, vehicles switching lanes, you know the drill. I’m staying in the right lane as I’ll be exiting shortly onto James River Freeway. Like most people behind the wheel at this time my mind is reviewing the day’s events and calculating what’s left to do.

I glance ahead and notice the car in front of me is breaking, so I tap mine too but quickly let off in order to keep the pace. A fraction of a second passes, I glance again and realize the car isn’t breaking; it’s at a dead stop. Moving at nearly 65 mph, I slam on my breaks. The car in front of me juts out to the right shoulder just in time to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of it and to avoid being hit by me. My view instantly shifts to the rear view mirror, and in the next second I notice a pickup truck behind me and hear its screeching breaks. The truck swerves to the right shoulder to avoid impact and I manage to come to a jolting stop with only inches to spare. After breathing a quick sigh of relief I then see a huge truck barreling toward me... I close my eyes and brace for impact.

In these few seconds of shear panic, the all-important moments of my life, my family, my kids, all of it really did flash before my eyes. I couldn’t believe this is how it was all going to end. Was I ready?

No impact. My eyes open and see that the truck has stopped. I exhale, and begin to slowly move forward. About half a dozen car lengths ahead I see what’s caused this near miss. It’s a plastic chair partially blocking the right hand lane. I’m disturbed that this little plastic chair almost caused a terrible accident. I exit onto James River Freeway and say a few thank-you prayers.

Suddenly, it becomes clear to me the message this close call had truly intended. The plastic chair hadn’t almost caused the accident. It wasn’t about the chair at all.
If I had made the choice to make that call seconds earlier, I would have been distracted; I would not have been able to stop. If anyone involved would have been talking, texting or updating their social media status, they would have not been able to stop. This accident was avoided simply because I listened to the voice that whispered to me, "Pay attention."

Using our phones while driving is manageable, right? Accidents won’t happen to us, we’re good drivers, right? Wrong. Distracted driving can cause serious accidents, injuries, and death. It happens every day.

I encourage you to give merit to the little voice you hear and think twice the next time it nudges you, as mine did. Doing so could very possibly could save your life and the lives of others.