Thursday, May 15, 2014

Don’t Forget to Wash Behind Your…Bridges?

Starting at MoDOT I knew I had a lot to learn. Each day is a new lesson on how MoDOT works and what we do to provide a world-class transportation experience. While I am trying to take in all of this new information, one thing that I heard recently I didn’t expect. MoDOT washes bridges.

After making sure my coworkers were not pulling a fast one on the new guy I wanted to learn more about this process and why we do it. I reached out to Maintenance Liaison Engineer Michael Shea who was happy to help a new MoDOT employee learn about this maintenance procedure.

During the winter season salt is put on the roads to help melt the ice and provide safer driving conditions for Missourians. When the weather gets warmer it is common to wash your car so the salt and abrasives don’t start to cause erosion and rust.

In order to keep the bridges free from the same salt and abrasives that could lead to deterioration on your car, MoDOT washes Missouri bridges twice a year using flush trucks, sweepers, and other equipment. It doesn’t matter if the bridge is new or old, it will be washed before and after the winter season.

Washing the top surface of the bridge is only half the battle. Many bridges have expansions joints that can start to leak due to the forces of nature hitting them over time. These leaks can lead to salt and abrasives getting down underneath the bridge. Although it can be harder to get to and may require the use of scaffolding, washing underneath the bridge is just as important as the side you drive on in order to maintain a better bridge.

If you ever come across a maintenance crew blasting water on a bridge remember they are there helping keep that bridge healthy for you to drive on for years to come.    

Monday, May 12, 2014

All Aboard for National Train Day!

This Saturday May 10 is the 7th annual National Train Day! This national celebration serves as a way to inform the public about the advantages of traveling by rail and to focus on the history of trains in the United States! In other words it is a day to celebrate how awesome trains are!

I don’t know about you, but I spend a fair amount of time glued to the television. By “fair amount” I mean there are occasional moments when I look away to double check that my surroundings are not currently on fire before focusing back on the magical box in the center of my living room.

Television has fostered a love of trains. When I was young there was Thomas the Train and the freight cars of Conjunction Junction on School House Rock.  Later in life I would see how amazing trains are in films such as From Russia with Love where James Bond fought villains on the Orient Express. From the early days of Buster Keaton in The General to Denzel Washington in Unstoppable, trains have been a captivating mode of transportation.

Take time this Saturday, May 10 to unglue from the television and see a real train. This anniversary of the 1869 completion of the transcontinental railroad can be your moment to learn more than what the silver screen shows you with events that include train displays, model train exhibits and kid friendly activities. Learn more about the events at

In Missouri, there are events taking place for National Train Day in La Plata, Kansas City and St. Louis.  

Get out and join in the festivities this Saturday. You can always record 3:10 to Yuma or the Polar Express and watch them some other time. All aboard for a great day of trains!