Pete Rahn State Transportation Director Pete Rahn promises state lawmakers even more progress on road and bridge construction in the coming years. Rahn, in the annual State of Transporation Address [ Audio ] [ Text & Video ] tells a joint session of the legislature that the just-completed Smooth Roads Initiative has made a dramatic impact on the roadways of the state. Rahn tells lawmakers, "If you thought the Smooth Roads Initiative was impressive, just wait until you experience this. Better Roads, Brighter Future is Smooth Roads Initiative on steroids."

The State Transportation Commission approved the Better Roads, Brighter Future highway program last month. The program seeks to improve 5,600 miles of the state’s busiest highways by 2012. Rahn says MoDOT needs more money to keep improving the state’s transportation system. He says, "We are called a department of transportation, but we are funded like a highway department. We must find ways to increase investment in other modes of transportation." 

Rahn shies from specifying how to increase money for the department, saying only that the money generated from selling bonds after voters approved Amendment Three ends in 2010. Rahn says at that point, funding for MoDOT "drops off a cliff". Rahn also makes another strong pitch for a primary seat belt law. Rahn says that not enough Missourians are buckling up. He says safety belt use has dropped from 77% in 2005 to 75% last year.

Rahn estimates that a primary seat belt law would save 90 lives a year. A primary law would allow police to stop motorists simply for not buckling up. Current law allows officers to write tickets for not wearing safety belts only if in connection with a traffic stop on another matter. Some state lawmakers, particularly in the House, have blocked numerous efforts in the past to pass such legislation. 

Download/Listen: Transportation Director Pete Rahn (:15 MP3)