A 21-member committee will hold meetings across the state this spring and summer looking into the future of transportation in Missouri. It also marks a return to public service for a former House Speaker a year after pleading guilty to assault.
The Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri Transportation Needs has been appointed by House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville), who wants it to look at the state’s transportation needs and look for solutions.
It is co-chaired by a fellow Republican and former House Speaker, Rod Jetton, who says his history of attacking infrastructure issues in Missouri is likely why he got the nod. “I did a walk to Jeff City back then after I was elected, my first year as a new state rep. I fought any new taxes for MODOT … there were some initiatives that year to put some more money there … and then when I was in office we dealed with some bills to reform the Highway Commission, approved some different funding mechanisms … bonding … for MODOT, and then in 2007 as Speaker I did a big statewide tour on transportation.”
Self-described as once being one of the Transportation Department’s strongest critics, Jetton says the agency has come a long way in improving its reputation since 2000, but he says the state has not made a new investment in transportation since Amendment 3.
“We spend more and more money on all kids of crazy programs and things and I don’t know if it really helps our state all that much, and yet there’s no doubt in my mind when we build a bridge or a highway, or even when you talk about a port or other modes of transportation, it’s something you can feel, see, touch and we know that it’s there and what it’s doing for our state.”
Jetton admits some hestitation at accepting the appointment and stepping back into the public spotlight. Last year, he pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor assault charge and was sentenced to probation and paying restitution. The case stemmed from a sexual encounter with a woman in 2009.
In the end, he says he decided to accept the position, calling it an opportunity to do work to benefit the state. “I’ve got children and hopefully will have grandchildren and I want them to travel our roads safely and have jobs.”
The Committee’s meeting schedule is:
Monday, May 14, 1:00 p.m.
MODOT – St. Louis District Transportation Mangement Center
14301 South Outer 40 Road
Chesterfield, MO 63017
Monday, May 21, 1:00 p.m.
MODOT – Northwest District
3602 North Belt Highway
St. Joseph, MO 64506
Monday, June 1, 1:00 p.m.
Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
202 South John Q Hammons Pkwy
Springfield, MO 65806
Friday, June 29, 10:00 a.m.
1333 North Sprigg Street
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
Monday, July 9, 10:00 a.m.
Activity and Recreation Center (ARC)
1701 West Ash Street
Columbia, MO 65203
Monday, July 23, 10:00 a.m.
MODOT – Northeast District
1711 South Route 61
Hannibal, MO 63401
Monday, August 6, 10:00 a.m.
Gamber Center, Shenendoah Rum
4 SE Independence Avenue
Lee’s Summit, MO 64603
AUDIO: Hear Mike Lear’s interview with Rod Jetton, 8:27