October 23, 2014

Central Office

Kansas City
St. Louis

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Commission Meeting Summary  

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission met Oct. 15 in St. Louis and heard a report on MoDOT’s first employee engagement survey in four years.

Rudy Nickens, director of equal opportunity and diversity, told the commission: “The employee engagement survey is the voice of the people. From the survey, we learned we have some strengths to build on, but we have some work to do to get where we want to be as an organization.”

surveyHe pointed out that despite major organizational changes, MoDOT employee satisfaction dipped only slightly since our last survey in 2010 (65 to 64 percent), and our efforts to live our values are working. Safety was the highest rated survey item. Diversity and employees building work skills and job knowledge were also rated at the top of all survey items. But Nickens said MoDOT still has work to do in building a more diverse workforce.

Not surprisingly, MoDOT employees are dissatisfied with little or no salary increases and limited promotional opportunities.

In the coming months, teams involving employees from across the organization will be formed to develop specific actions to improve MoDOT in four areas: salary and benefits, use of resources, promotion and leadership and communication.

“We take the results of this survey seriously and realize we need employees’ help to better understand the issues and develop solutions,” said MoDOT Director Dave Nichols. “Most of these issues have no quick fixes. I hope employees will volunteer to participate. We can only move forward together.”

Commissioner Gregg Smith said, “We look forward to the recommendations your four teams come up with. We recognize how difficult the last few years have been for our employees, and without an answer to our funding dilemma, the next few years will be challenging as well. Our employees are resilient and dedicated, and the Commission is committed to their welfare.”

Hazel Erby, chair of the St. Louis County Council, talked to the commission about the need for workforce diversity, career development and business support within the African-American community in St. Louis. She also presented specific project needs in the St. Louis area that would create jobs, rehabilitate the business corridor and enhance pedestrian and public transit travel.

“We are committed to doing all we can to ensure a diverse workforce on our projects,” Commissioner Joe Carmichael said. “That’s why we’re proposing to raise our statewide DBE goal based on indications that the marketplace can provide that level of services.”

The commission also heard a presentation from Joe Reagan, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, which hosted the commission meeting. He noted that the community’s needs – jobs, economic development and access to education - center around transportation.

“We need to be bold about our vision, but we also need to be bold and transparent about funding for transportation,” Reagan said. “We stand firm with you as we go back to the drawing board to find a funding solution.”

In his report, MoDOT Director Dave Nichols discussed the department’s recent completion of another phase of Route 364/Page Avenue in St. Charles County, and said that in another month or so, the entire project should be completed, extending Route 364 all the way to Interstate 64. The $118 million project was made possible by cost-share agreements with St. Charles County and local communities. That program, however, stands in limbo because of MoDOT’s diminishing funds situation.

Nichols and the commission also paid tribute to Josh Wiechens, a motorist assist operator in the St. Louis District. Last month he came upon a tractor-trailer on I-70 in St. Charles that was disabled on the shoulder and on fire. He helped the driver, who was overcome by smoke, to safety and medical attention and helped other first responders clear the incident.

Commission Summary

The commission approved the results of the Sept. 19 bid opening, awarding contracts to the low bidders on 26 projects for which 100 bids were submitted. MoDOT’s last letting of 2014 is scheduled for November 21. The biggest project awarded this month was for improvements on the U.S. Route 50 Whitton Expressway in Jefferson City. Emery Sapp & Sons of Columbia won the contract with a low bid of just under $20 million.

Nichols told commissioners that two St. Louis District employees, Resident Engineer Tim Hellebusch and Senior Construction Inspector Vince Kaimann will be honored next month with AASHTO’s “Performance Excellence Award” for their efforts in raising the Spirit of St. Louis Boulevard Bridge over I-64 to eliminate clearance issues. The project was part of the I-64 Daniel Boone Missouri River Bridge replacement.

He also said the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge is one of 10 finalists in AASHTO’s America’s Transportation Awards competition that will be announced next month. Also, a documentary produced by educational channel HEC-TV, won a Mid-America Emmy Award last month. The program was entitled “Bridge to the Future.” KSDK-TV in St. Louis was also nominated for an Emmy for its documentary about the bridge, “Landmark of Legends.”

Team Talk
Needing Employees for Diversity and Inclusion Council

Think about a time when you found yourself in a group of people and you thought to yourself, “I’m not sure I fit in here.”  Maybe it was the first day at a new job, or maybe you tried a new church one Sunday morning.  Perhaps you were the woman at a meeting and everyone else was a man.  Maybe you were the only person of color on a crew.


It’s common to feel like the odd person out when you’re in a new group of people.  But I hope you soon get to know other people and start creating the bonds that help you feel like you’re a part of the group.


In the work place, a sense of inclusion, of feeling like you’re part of the group, is critical to success.  People need to be comfortable presenting themselves as the person they really are.  People shouldn’t feel like they have to conform to a narrow definition of humanity to be successful, fit in, or be accepted and valued.  That’s why being inclusive is one of MoDOT’s Values:


Be Inclusive

  • I embrace the diversity within my team.  I recognize the differences within my team make it stronger.
  • I consider other viewpoints in my decisions.  I seek out opinions that may differ from my own to make better decisions.
  • So we are more inclusive of others.  I work to make our agency a reflection of the diverse communities it serves.


It was last October when Equal Opportunity and Diversity Director Rudy Nickens and I convened a diversity and inclusion council and started to talk about how Team MoDOT could do more to develop and grow diversity and inclusion in our workforce.  We scheduled a January meeting, but it was canceled and no subsequent meetings were held.


I would like to take another run at organizing a group of employees who care about this topic and want to work on it.  Quite a few of the original group of 25 told me they’d like to continue, but some people have left the department, or their jobs have changed and they no longer have the time to commit to this effort.  I am looking for about a half dozen people to round out the council.  If you are interested, please fill out the attached application.


The application explains the goals we want to achieve and the type of people we’re looking for. Your information will route directly to the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Division.  If we have a lot of interest, we will choose among applicants to round out the council with a diverse group representing our various locations, jobs, etc.


So we can draw this to a close, I ask that if you are interested, you complete the application by Friday, Nov. 7. If you have any questions, you can call Rudy at 573-751-8602.


Thanks for all the good work you do at MoDOT, in all the many ways you serve. Stay safe. And GO ROYALS!

Medical Plan Policy Change
An important policy change for our medical plan is outlined below. This information is also being mailed to all plan subscribers.

On Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, a Jackson County Circuit Court Judge issued an order that found sections 451.022 and 104.012 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri and Article I, section 33 of the Missouri Constitution were unconstitutional. These laws prohibited Missouri’s recognition of marriages of same-health insurancesex couples married in a state where same-sex marriage is lawful. On Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office announced that the State of Missouri defendants would not appeal the order. Accordingly, the MoDOT/MSHP Medical and Life Insurance Plan will begin accepting enrollment of same-sex spouses with a valid marriage certificate.

Married same-sex couples will have a special qualifying event open enrollment period beginning with the date of this letter through Nov. 28, 2014 for coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2015. Such persons wanting to enroll during the special qualifying event open enrollment period will need to complete an Enrollment Form requesting to add their same-sex spouse. Eligible dependent children may also be added at this time. The Medical Insurance Enrollment Form A-570 is available on the website at
  • U.S. Birth Certificate,
  • U.S. Passport, U.S. Passport card,
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Certificate of Birth Abroad,
  • Certificate of Naturalization,
  • or Valid Lawful Permanent Resident Card.

In addition to a valid marriage certificate, one form of lawful presence for each new applicant must be provided.  Examples of appropriate documentation would be (copies are acceptable as long as they are readable):

All Enrollment Forms and supporting documentation must be received by close of business Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Enrollment documentation may be mailed, faxed, e-mailed, or personally hand-delivered to:
Employee Benefits
105 W Capitol Ave, P.O. Box 270
Jefferson City, Missouri 65102
Fax: 573-522-1482

You can contact the Employee Benefits Office at 877-863-9406 with any additional questions you may have.


Showcase Participants Push Best Practices to an All-Time High  
snow plow stand
This snow plow stand is a 2014 award winner from the Southwest District.

Thanks to a good showing by districts and divisions at the Innovations Showcase in April, MoDOT’s Solutions at Work program has approved a record number of best practices. A total of 28 best practices have been added to the online database, which eclipses the previous high-water mark of 26 set in 2013. What’s more, for the third year in a row, every district and the Central Office had at least one best practice approved. The hotbed for innovation during the past year was the Central Office claiming a total of seven best practices.

Twelve of the best practices were statewide winners from the Innovations Challenge Showcase. Another sixteen of the participants from the showcase have been evaluated and approved as best practices by teams of district and division experts over the past five months. There are still 20 showcase innovations being further evaluated.

You can see photos and plans for all MoDOT best practices online at http://wwwi/intranet/or/Solutions/solutionslist.htm.

This year’s challenge is already underway. If you’ve found a way to do your work better, faster or cheaper, take a minute to complete the Innovations Challenge submission form at http://wwwi/intranet/cr/SolutionsAtWork/Innovations.htm.

Here’s a breakdown of all 28 best practices approved so far this year.

  • Aero Tarp Modification (Northeast District)
  • Cable Conduit Quantity Worksheet (St. Louis District)
  • Casing Advancer (Construction and Materials Division)
  • Customer Contact Map (Customer Relations Division)
  • Drag Chain Oiler (Kansas City District)
  • Emergency Reference Marker on TIM (Northwest District)
  • Engine Block Heater Controller (Central District)
  • Fatality Messaging (Traffic and Highway Safety Division)
  • Field Inspection Forms (Construction and Materials Division)
  • GPS Pavement Markers (Northeast District)
  • GroupCast (Central District)
  • High Friction Surface Treatment (Central District)
  • Inspection Tools (Central District)
  • LED Panic Lights (St. Louis District)
  • LiDAR Vertical Clearances (St. Louis District)
  • Liquid Pelletized Lime (Southeast District)
  • Maintenance SharePoint Site (Maintenance Division)
  • Onyx Surface Treatment (Northeast District)
  • Pipe Liner Winch (Southeast District)
  • Pole Mounted Camera (Bridge Division)
  • Porous Backfill (Southeast District)
  • Raising Spirit of St. Louis Boulevard (St. Louis District)
  • Rotational Development (St. Louis District)
  • Safe and Sound Redeck Templates (Bridge Division)
  • Snow Plow Stand (Southwest District)
  • Tablets in Construction (Kansas City District)
  • Tow Plow Salt Deflector (Kansas City District)
  • Traffic Permitting Database (Traffic and Highway Safety Division)
MoDOT to Allow Overweight Loads of Grain  
Recent heavy rains are hampering farmers' efforts to harvest a bumper grain crop. As muddy fields dry, Missourians must race to draw grain from the fields and get it to market.

grain trucksAt the request of Richard Fordyce, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, MoDOT announced that Missouri grain haulers will be allowed to haul corn, soybeans and other grain crops at heavier than normal weights.

Private and for-hire motor carriers may carry up to 10 percent more than their licensed weight; however, the heavier loads are not allowed to use interstate highways.

Overweight permits are not required for these slightly overweight loads. All other traffic and motor carrier regulations that normally apply remain in place. This waiver is in effect immediately through midnight, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014. While the waiver is in effect, participating motor carriers are limited to:

  • A loaded, gross weight no greater than ten percent (10%) above the gross licensed weight of the commercial motor vehicle
    Transportation only within the State of Missouri
  • Drivers must obey all posted bridge weight limits
  • When crossing a bridge, the driver must restrict the vehicle speed to no more than thirty miles per hour (30 mph) and must center the truck between two lanes of the bridge. The truck driver must yield to oncoming traffic, and
  • Travel on highways other than Missouri interstate highways. No overweight travel is allowed on Missouri interstate highways.

All travelers are advised to visit the MoDOT Traveler Information Map at for up-to-date road closure information. For more information, call MoDOT Motor Carrier Services at 1-800-877-8499 between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central time.

Don't Make a Rookie Mistake When Driving Around Big Rigs  

We see it on our roadways every day - experienced and older drivers who have become complacent in their daily commute or weekly travel, zipping in and out of traffic and not thinking about the rules of sharing the road with big rigs. At up to 20 times the weight of a passenger vehicle, these big rigs can cause serious and often fatal injuries when involved in a crash.

big rigsWith so many large trucks on our roadways it's imperative that drivers of passenger vehicles use extreme caution when maneuvering around those big rigs. Motorists are urged to share the road, respect each other, pay attention and avoid unsafe behavior that could result in a crash.

"Research indicates that drivers of passenger cars are responsible for 70 percent of the fatal crashes involving large trucks," said Dr. Leanna Depue, executive chair of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. "In fact, the actions of the automobile driver are more than three times likely to contribute to
a fatal crash than the actions of the truck driver."

Missouri statistics reveal that it's our older driver population that most often encounter collisions by underestimating size, distance and speed of big trucks. All motorists, even those who have been driving for years, need to always remember the following safety tips when driving near a big truck:

  • Stay out of the No Zone. Don't linger alongside a truck or bus - you could be driving the No-Zone.
  • Stay visible! Never underestimate the size and speed of an approaching tractor-trailer.
  • Don't tailgate a truck. The farther you are from a truck the less likely you will be involved in a collision.
  • Don't speed. Obey all speed limits.
  • Allow plenty of room. Large trucks need more room to make turns and maneuver in traffic.
  • Use your headlights in inclement weather. Lights make cars more visible to truck drivers. A gray car against a gray highway on a gray, rainy day is hard to see.
  • Buckle Up. Wearing your safety belt is the single most important thing you can do to save your life in a crash.
Fatality Update
What's Happening
MULooking for a Career in Public Affairs?
The University of Missouri is offering scholarships to provide opportunities for high potential mid-career state employees to attend their Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program.

The Fellowship covers in-state tuition for the 11 required MPA courses. Students can choose to complete the coursework for the MPA degree on site in Jefferson City or on-campus in Columbia.

Interested? Read More – MPA Program

EdChat With The Chief
Remember to check out Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger’s blog post. This week he talks about employee fall meetings - Chat with the Chief.

art contestAnnual Art Competition
Young people throughout Missouri are invited to illustrate the competition aviation events of the 2015 FAI World Air Games in Dubai, UAE, in the 2015 International Aviation Art Contest.

Sponsored by several national and international organizations and supported by MoDOT, the contest inspires youth to explore aeronautics, engineering and science as they illustrate the theme, "World Air Games."

Children between the ages of 6 and 17 can participate. Entries are judged in three age classes for creative use of the theme. Entries from Missouri youth will be evaluated by MoDOT employees. The winners will advance to national and possible international levels of the contest.

All artwork for the state competition must be postmarked by Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. Missouri students submitting artwork should mail to MoDOT, Attn: Teresa Hall, PO Box 270, Jefferson City, MO 65102. For more information, call (573) 526-2169, send an email to or visit the national sponsor's site,

Above, one of last year’s winning entries by Sky Waters of Minnesota.

Central District
Central Office
Kansas City District
Northeast District
Northwest District
Southeast District
Southwest District
St. Louis District
100 Mile Challenge Update

As of Oct. 13, MODOT has logged over 86,000 miles through the Governor’s 100 Missouri Mile Challenge. The St. Louis district is currently in the lead. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late. Here's how:

1. Visit and create an account on any computer or device
2. Select the Groups tab at the top of the page
3.Under Find a Group select workplace
4. Enter “MoDOT” as the Keyword
5. Select your District or the Central Office team
6. Join the group and get active, then log your miles back on the website.

October Retirements
Allen Cockriel – NW – 10 years
Danny E. Gramenz – NW – 30 years
Anthony W. Morrall – NE – 30 years
David L. Deitch – KC – 23 years
John F. Ferrell – KC – 31 years
Stuart G. Stroud – KC – 14 years
Eric D. Deschamp – KC – 23 years
Debora S. Redel – CD – 8 years
Norma J. Snelling – CD – 22 years
John W. Tyler – SL – 14 years

Kevin G. Steiger – SL – 29 years
Sheldon C. Bennett – SL – 31 years
Caleb B. Alexander – SW – 16 years
Doug W. West – SW – 30 years
Dale R. Pliler – SW – 11 years

In Memoriam

Jack Jaegers
CO – September 23
Junior Millsap
former D8 – September 26
Thomas Krehmeier
former D8 – September 28

Michael Harris
former D3 – October 2
Robert Bassett
former D9 – October 3
Glendal Eaton
former D9 – October 5

John Kemmer
former D1 – October 5
Garry Henry
former D7 – October 7


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