November 19, 2015

Central Office

Kansas City
St. Louis

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Commission Summary

Government Relations Director Jay Wunderlich asked for and received support from the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission at its November 5 meeting for a three-part legislative package in 2016. It includes:

  • Safety –

Primary Enforcement of Seat Belt Law
Missouri’s statewide law is known as a secondary enforcement law with regard to wearing a seat belt. A law enforcement officer must have stopped a driver for some other violation in order to also cite the driver for not wearing their seat belt. The proposed legislation will allow a law enforcement officer to stop a driver solely for failure to wear their seat belt if the violation is clearly visible to the officer.

All Driver Texting Ban
Missouri’s current law, passed in 2009, prohibits texting while driving for drivers 21 years of age and under. The proposed legislation would prohibit all drivers from texting and driving when operating a motor vehicle.

  • Multimodal Funding – Waterways Trust Fund
    Legislation would establish a Waterways Trust Fund which would fund capital improvement projects for ports across the state. This would serve as a dedicated funding source of General Revenue dollars.
  • Innovations – Commercial Motor Vehicle Platooning Pilot
    Legislation would authorize a pilot project involving platooning of commercial motor vehicles. Platooning is a wireless connectivity between trucks that would allow for the second truck to follow at a close distance for better fuel economy and safety. Current state laws relating to commercial motor vehicles would remain intact.

During the Commission meeting, Central District Area Engineer Preston Kramer (left) and State Bridge Engineer Dennis Heckman (right) discuss the local impacts that "critical-condition" bridges can have on communities.

Critical Condition Bridges
State Bridge Engineer Dennis Heckman and Central District Area Engineer Preston Kramer described for the Commission the local impacts that “critical-condition” bridges can have on communities.

Heckman explained the bridge rating system, where a new bridge is a ‘9’ and a closed bridge is a ‘2.’ In MoDOT’s nomenclature, condition 3 and 4 bridges are considered in critical condition. There are 79 such bridges in the Central District, and 641 statewide – 50 more than a year ago.

Kramer described how each is important to the area it serves:

  • Route J over First Creek in Gasconade County – closure of this 77-year-old, timber-pile bridge would mean a 24-mile detour and significant impacts to school districts, resident access to health care and emergency responders.
  • Route F over Holt Creek in Dent County – a bridge of critical importance to one of the county’s largest employers, Canoak Missouri, which receives materials and ships products across this bridge every month to the tune of 170 truck loads.
  • Route B over the Bourbeuse River in Phelps County – this 81-year-old bridge is on the primary route for many commuters who work at the Walmart Distribution Center in St. James, the region’s largest employer.

Heckman told the Commission that to get ahead of the curve, MoDOT should be replacing more than 100 bridges per year, but available resources are allowing only 30-40 annual bridge projects.

Interim Director’s Report – Interim Director Roberta Broeker reported on MoDOT’s fourth annual winter operations drill, which took place on Nov. 4. The drill allows the department to test the readiness of its workforce and equipment, drive each snowplow circuit and help better anticipate response times when an actual snowfall occurs.

Broeker also shared the good news of the $10 million TIGER grant MoDOT received from the U.S. Department of Transportation toward the replacement of the Champ Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River at Louisiana. Chairman Stephen Miller thanked Governor Nixon, MoDOT’s government relations staff and the staffs of Senators Blunt and McCaskill for their work in securing the grant. Competition was fierce. The USDOT received 627 applications and awarded 39 grants.

She also highlighted a recent report on employee turnover which is running at about 10 percent. Exit interviews indicate that low pay is the primary reason for turnover at MoDOT.

Consideration of Bids for Transportation Improvements - The Commission approved the results of the Oct. 23 bid opening, awarding contracts to the low bidders on 22 projects for which 83 bids were submitted. The Commission also awarded a contract on a flood repair project in Lincoln County, for which six bids were received on Oct. 28. The total value of October’s awards was $58.2 million. MoDOT’s last letting of 2015 is scheduled for Nov. 20.

FY15 CAFR – Financial Services Director Brenda Morris and representatives from MoDOT’s independent auditor, Rubin Brown, presented the department’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2015, which was accepted by the Commission. Included was the annual independent audit report, which for the 16th consecutive year gave MoDOT an unmodified, or clean, opinion.


Team Talk

Hello Team MoDOT! Last week we had the opportunity to honor our veteran co-workers. Thank you to everyone who attended a Veterans Day celebration across the state. I was proud to attend the event we hosted in the Central Office and hear from veterans Ray Wood and Beckie Brietzke. They both told compelling stories about their service in the armed forces. It was
Human Resources Specialist Beckie Brietzke shares her story about serving in the armed forces during last week's Veteran's Day Celebration. You can see more about this event on the Central Office page of Connections.
inspiring to hear them speak about their dedication to keeping America safe. Although Veterans Day was officially last week, I thank all of our MoDOT veterans and their families for all you do and all you have done.

It’s hard to believe that November is not only here, but more than half over. It seems not so long ago I was asked to accept the role of interim director of MoDOT, and now the time is nearly here for us to welcome our new, permanent director. The Commission selected Patrick McKenna. Patrick comes to Missouri from New Hampshire where he was the deputy commissioner of their Department of Transportation, serving as their chief financial, operating and legislative officer. I am looking forward to getting to know Patrick and finding out what his vision is for MoDOT and for transportation in the state of Missouri. We are smart folks here at MoDOT. We are capable of great things. But we are neither so smart nor so capable that we shouldn’t be glad to have a new perspective. Change is opportunity. Join me in the excitement of new possibilities!

My time as interim director is coming to an end, but I will never forget what this summer has meant to me. Not long ago, a reporter asked me why I agreed to be the interim director since I had no intention of competing for the job. The answer was simple. The culture here at MoDOT is when you’re asked to do something, you step up. I gave the reporter the example that nobody wants to plow snow on Christmas Day, but if that is the job that needs to be done, you do it. This summer was my version of plowing on Christmas. Not the job I asked for but the job I was asked to do. And I have been blessed because it gave me the chance to meet so many of you.

I estimate I visited with somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 employees this summer. I remember a lot of those conversations. I remember the questions you asked and the things you told me I needed to know. Some of those things were sobering, and they touched my heart. Some of the answers I gave were not what you wanted to hear. They were about the financial, political and legal realities we face. But even if you didn’t get the answer you wanted, I hope you know I was honest with you and that I took every decision I made on your behalf seriously.

When Patrick joins us, I’ll share with him what I heard from you this summer. And I’ll tell him what an incredible team he now has. I had the opportunity to lead the finest DOT in the country, and now he will have that honor.

Soon, I’ll get to resume the job of being your chief financial officer. I won’t be sorry to hand over the keys, but I will miss the additional hours I spent visiting with you. I am so grateful for everything you do every day. And although it is still a week early, Happy Thanksgiving Team MoDOT!
Travel Information Map "How To"

TIM GraphicWhen winter weather hits, Missouri drivers need to know the latest road conditions. That's why MoDOT hosts the Traveler Information Map on its website. It's easy to check the map online or downloaded as an app for your mobile device.

Although checking the map for winter road conditions is very popular with drivers, the map also shows work zones, incidents and other closures that help drivers get to their destination.

To make the map even easier to navigate, a short video was created to show all the options available. Check it out here - TIM How To Video.
View From the Chair

Missourians Deserve Solutions, Not Excuses

As the Commission approached the task of recruiting a new director to lead our department of transportation, the national search firm warned us to be realistic with our expectations. Why would someone want to come to a state that ranked near the bottom in transportation funding and had spent the last five years eliminating 1,200 jobs, closing over 120 facilities and selling off nearly 750 pieces of heavy highway equipment? These cuts put $600 million dollars back on the roads – but only delayed the inevitable decline of an underfunded transportation system: 641 critical-condition bridges; the inability to preserve the system; the rationing of repairs and maintenance; the suspension of view from the chairthe cost-share program; the deferral of planning studies and an increase in fatalities. Most distressing, however, was the apparent lack of will to identify and implement a long-term reliable funding solution to arrest this serious decline. Recognition of the situation was not a problem, but taking action has proven to be.

How would we explain to candidates a state which in previous generations had the courage to build out the nation’s 7th largest transportation system; to pull the state up and out of the mud; to construct an enviable farm-to-market network of roads; to give birth to the interstate highway system – but had now lost its way? How would we make sense of a state where the importance of transportation is recognized, yet years pass without a viable long-term funding solution? At a time when neighboring states are raising new revenues, attracting new jobs and generating economic opportunities, how would we explain a state where excuses substitute for action?

We assured the search team that Missouri was a better place than it appeared. Yes, the statistics were true. And resignation of the House Speaker and political maneuvering last spring had prevented even a modest increase in one of the nation’s lowest fuel taxes from even coming to a vote. But great leaders seek out great challenges – and Missouri represents a challenge.

The department had been cut to the core but still retained its core competencies with a dedicated and talented work force. Any new revenues which might be enacted were protected by the constitution from being diverted for other purposes. We did have good leaders committed to transportation, we just needed to continue to educate the naysayers. And, as the hub of the greatest economic engine in the world, Missouri was blessed with a logistic centrality which was the envy of the nation. In short, Missouri had great unrealized potential. Read More.


What's Happening

DE UppdateDeferred Compensation Update

This month, a number of Missourians will spend long hours outside waiting around in the woods. That sort of patience and commitment reminds us of a valuable lesson on retirement savings. As anyone who has hunted will tell you, there are times when you ask yourself: "What am I doing out here?" It's dark, it's cold, it's windy and nothing is happening.

It's the same doubt retirement savers face as they try visualizing a retirement day somewhere in the unforeseeable future. Learn more by watching this month's video - November Deferred Comp.

Thanksgiving graphicGovernor Nixon issued Executive Order 15-08 to all state departments and agencies saying state offices will be closed on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, the day after Thanksgiving.  

We know that not all MoDOT staff will be off on Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday, as our traffic management centers, motorists assist crews, customer service centers and other departments are running 24/7.

For those who will be off work for the holiday, let’s remember our co-workers who will be on the job keeping MoDOT running and serving our customers.

You can view all state holidays for 2016 on the Human Resource's SharePoint site here - 2016 State Holidays.

November Retirements

Louis Nunley – CD – 27 years

Danny Williams – SL – 24 years

Virginia L. Lindquist – SW – 6 years

Freddie L. Taylor – SE – 27 years

In Memoriam
Robert Vaughn - active employee
SL – October 15
Janice Casey
Former D6 – October 7
Larry King
Former D10 – October 10
Wilfred Helvey
Former D7 – October 12
Don Reaves
Former D7 – October 18
Anthony Aubuchon
Former D6 – October 20

Robert Chitwood
Former D3 – October 25
Donald Flippin
CO – October 27
Mark Tremmel
CO – October 30
Larry Cole
SE – October 30
Joseph Jones
KC – October 30
Harvell Phillips
Former D10 – November 3

James Little
CO – November 4
Noel Shipley
Former D9 – November 5
Carl Melton
Former D8 – November 10
Donald Blair
Former D9 – November 11
Charles Hanks Jr.
Former D9 – November 12

Our mission is to provide a world-class transportation experience that delights our customers and promotes a prosperous Missouri.
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