The Department of Transportation is hoping to save $512 million to pour into roads and bridges. That savings would come through staff reductions, shutting down facilities and equipment sell offs.
The Missouri Highways adn Transportation Commission asked Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith for a bold new direction in the department’s five year plan … and they got it. Keith says MoDOT faces a severe decline in funding and the inability to match federal funds, leading to what he says is a “pending crisis.”
MoDOT is going from $1.2 billion a year for road maintenence, construction and projects, to about $600 million — less than half. Keith says there’s only one way to make up some of the difference. He says the plan calls for staff reduction through attrition and transfers, and, as a last step, layoffs, but he says without taking these steps, Missouri would lose millions of dollars in federal funds for transportation.
Specifically, the proposed plan includes reducing the size of the department’s staff by 1,200, closing 135 facilities and selling more than 740 pieces of equipment.
Public forums on the new five-year plan will be held until the Commission takes it up for approval on June 8th. If fully implemented, in five years it would result in $117 million in savings to put back into roads and bridges.
Commission Chair Grace Nichols says, “We don’t like having to head in this direction, but the reality of our funding situation makes it necessary.”
“The department’s plan includes reducing the number of its district offices, which administer the state’s transportation program at the regional level, from 10 to seven. MoDOT’s current district boundaries have been virtually unchanged since 1922, when many state roads were still gravel and MoDOT used mules and wagons,” MoDOT reports.
MoDOT plans to close its district offices in Macon, Joplin and Willow Springs, “but will continue to maintain area offices in those cities and have a strong presence in every county in the state,” Keith says.
A map showing the proposed districts can be found at www.modot.org.