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JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Department of Transportation accomplished several major goals during the past year, but is only spending about half of what it should on needed projects because of a lack of funds, the director of the agency told the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight today.
Kevin Keith told legislators that Missouri highways are in better shape – 86 percent of major roads are in good condition – and traffic fatalities have dropped 35 percent since 2005, the lowest they have been since 1949.
“In addition to these accomplishments, I’m also very proud of the high level of customer service we provide,” said Keith. “When surveyed, 83 percent of Missourians report they are satisfied with MoDOT, and 90 percent trust us to keep our commitments. That tells me we’re on the right track.”
Projects continue to be finished on time and under budget. The 473 projects completed in fiscal year 2011, including improvements to several major routes, came in 15.4 percent less than the project estimate, saving $185 million to be used on other highway and bridge needs.
Keith noted the American Public Works Association in August named the nation’s first diverging diamond interchange in Springfield as a Public Works Project of the Year. Its success in increasing capacity, decreasing congestion and minimizing infrastructure costs has prompted numerous other diverging diamond interchanges to be built throughout the state, most recently at Interstate 435 and Front Street in the Kansas City area. Kansas City also saw the completion of the kcICON project which added the Christopher S. Bond signature cable-stay bridge to the city skyline and was named Engineering News Record Midwest’s 2011 Best Project, among other awards.
“Those are great successes, but we’re not finished. Unfortunately, we’re only spending about half of what we should on transportation infrastructure because we don’t have the money to move the plans forward and address safety and congestion and create jobs,” Keith said. “Our average construction budget is $600 million for the entire state. That is half of what it has averaged for the last five years.”
To address the severe decline in transportation funding, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission in June adopted a plan that will reduce MoDOT staff by 1,200, close 131 facilities and dispose of more than 740 pieces of equipment. By 2015, those steps will save $512 million for vital transportation improvements. More than $64 million has already been used to improve the state’s rural highways.
Recognizing that many families and organizations face similar financial concerns, Keith outlined the department’s goals going forward.
“We will use our resources to the best of our ability,” he said. “We’ll maintain the transportation system in as good of condition as we can for as long as we can. We’ll work to keep travelers and our employees safe, and we’ll continue to provide excellent customer service.”
A copy of MoDOT’s report to the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight can be found at www.modot.org/newsandinfo/reports/annualreports.htm