April 10, 2014

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Work Zone Press Conference Highlights Safety

by Patrick Wood  
On Tuesday, April 8, Southwest District Engineer Becky Baltz, MoDOT Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger and Highway Patrol Lieutenant Dan Bracker gathered in Springfield to talk to reporters about work zone awareness at MoDOT's statewide news conference.

work zone video
Click above to watch a video of the Work Zone Awareness kick-off event in Springfield.

Baltz opened the press conference by thanking MoDOT's partners and all the highway workers represented. In addition to MoDOT and the highway patrol, local public works departments, emergency response, and law enforcement were on hand to support the cause. She asked that motorists watch out for everyone who helps keep Missouri moving, so everyone can go home safely each night.

Ed Hassinger and Lt. Bracker took the opportunity to talk about Missouri's "Move Over Law." The law requires motorists to move over one lane and give extra room whenever they see emergency or roadwork vehicles on the side of the road with flashing lights on.

"The law is simple," Hassinger said. "If you see a vehicle with flashing lights on, move over and give some room. If you can't move over, you are required to slow down and proceed cautiously past the vehicles and workers."

Lt. Bracker said that in 2013, the Missouri State Highway Patrol spent almost 1,800 hours on construction work zone enforcement operations. They made 569 arrests and issued 637 warnings.

work zone awareness

The Work Zone Awareness Week news conference included a memorial to the 22 employees in the Southwest District who have lost their lives on the job. Photo by Shaun Schmitz.

"The Missouri State Highway Patrol is committed to providing the safest possible highway transportation system for everyone who uses our highways, builds our highways and maintains our highways," said Bracker. "We will continue to make work zone enforcement one of our top priorities throughout the year."

Hassinger also discussed the future of transportation and how the drop in transportation funding will change Missouri's work zones.

"MoDOT's focus is increasingly on preservation of the existing transportation system," he said. "By 2017 our budget will fall well under what it takes to maintain what we've got, and that could lead to the deterioration of highways across the state."

Regardless of the work taking place, the most important message of the day was safety. When motorists pay attention and drive with caution through work zones, that means fewer crashes, fewer fatalities, and fewer injuries. Drivers play a key role in making work zones safe for everyone - especially themselves.

Take Time to Be Safe  

It’s that time of year when we focus on work zone safety, by educating drivers on how they should navigate through work zones, reminding them to watch for workers on the roadways, and to move over when they see us or other emergency vehicles on the side of the road.

work zone video
Click above to view the newest edition to the safety video library - Take Time to Be Safe.

We also need to focus on ourselves and think about our safety in work zones and in everything that we do.

A new safety operation video, “Take Time to Be Safe,” highlights some of the basics employees need to remember when preparing for the day's work, reviews the steps for setting up and tearing down a work zone, and includes an employee testimony.

The video can be found on the comprehensive safety site’s video library - http://wwwi/intranet/SafetyVideos.htm. Supervisors are asked to use the video during morning safety discussions.

Commission Meeting Summary  
In closing last week’s meeting of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, Chairman Stephen Miller observed, “With increased funding, MoDOT and all of its partners are poised to perform in extraordinary ways.”

capitolHe based his opinion on the progress being made at the Capitol to place a ballot initiative before the voters for additional transportation funding, a prestigious award that MoDOT has received, and the untapped opportunities Missouri has in developing and connecting all of its transportation modes.

House Joint Resolution 68 is advancing through the House of Representatives, and could move to Senate consideration soon. The resolution would allow Missourians to vote on a 1-cent temporary sales tax that could be used for any transportation purpose. Over 10 years it would annually generate more than $700 million that would be shared between state, city and county projects.

“The Senate sponsors inform us that getting the bill to the Senate will greatly assist them in addressing and overcoming any filibuster,” Miller said. “We’re told that if the bill gets before the Senate, they believe the votes are there to pass it.” The last day of the 2014 legislative session is Friday, May 16. As a joint resolution, the bill does not require the governor’s signature, and if passed it would appear on the November 4 ballot.

Director Dave Nichols told the Commission state planning partners are meeting now to develop the list of projects that would be delivered with the new revenues. These new funds could be spent on any transportation need – not just roads and bridges – as prioritized regionally. If the legislature allows the funding proposal to go to the voters, MoDOT will be prepared to recommend a list of projects to the Commission in August.

Commission Summary

The Commission awarded $95.4 million in construction contracts from the March 21 letting, where MoDOT received 165 bids on 47 calls. Two projects in the Northwest District and one in the Northeast District were rejected due to excessive bids. One large project awarded was for the reconfiguration of ramps to the William Clay Sr. Bridge (Poplar Street) in St. Louis. State Design Engineer Eric Schroeter reminded the Commission there won’t be a letting this month, because of a shortage of work. “Eric described a perfect storm,” Miller said. “While the decline in state funds is well known, increasing costs are often overlooked. A recovering economy means that material prices are increasing and, in certain parts of the state, the recession thinned the contracting ranks causing a drop in competition and consequently a loss of discounted pricing MoDOT experienced during the downturn.”

David Guillaume, president of APAC-Missouri, presented MoDOT with the 2013 Sheldon G. Hayes Award for excellence in asphalt pavement construction. This is the first time MoDOT has won the annual award from the National Asphalt Pavement Association. The award recognizes work that was completed in 2012 on 15.3 miles of Interstate 44 in Jasper County. “An award for the nation’s best pavement is another example of the great work MoDOT and its contracting partners can produce when funding is available,” Miller said. Ironically, in response to a question from Commissioner Gregg Smith, Guillaume said the downturn in MoDOT’s construction program had greatly affected his company. Over the course of the recession APAC’s work has fallen fall off by 40 percent, resulting in the closure of some operations around the state, and it's workforce has gone from 1,100 employees in 2006-07 to 650 today.


Michelle Teel, MoDOT’s director of multimodal operations, reported on her division’s work to deliver infrastructure and services in aviation, rail, waterways and freight. These modes are essential to economic development and a vibrant state, as Missourians consistently expressed during the development of the long range transportation plan. Teel shared these facts to demonstrate that point:


  • Missouri is the nation’s fourth largest state for freight.
  • Kansas City and St. Louis are the nation’s second and third largest freight rail hubs.
  • Rail carries the equivalent of 15.5 million truckloads of goods, annually sparing our roads 43,000 truckloads of daily traffic.
  • There are 3,800 rail crossings on public roads, and less than half have gates and warning devices.


  • There are more than 70 million transit trips in Missouri each year.
  • The 16-34 year-old age group is transit’s fastest growing demographic.
  • Missouri’s investment in transit ranks 40th nationally.
  • Missouri spends 50 cents per capita on transit – compared to $4.16 in Iowa, $2.09 in Kansas, $1.57 in Nebraska, Arkansas and Oklahoma, and $102.80 in Illinois.


  • Missouri’s 124 public-use airports generate $11.1 billion in economic activity each year.
  • Those airports have $90 million in project needs to grow this economic engine, but only about $25 million is available.


  • St. Louis is the third largest inland port in the country.
  • Our other ports are woefully underdeveloped. Last fall, Missouri’s 15 public ports had facility needs totaling $70 million, while State port appropriations the last five years amounted to only $3 million.

She noted that MoDOT does not have a dedicated source for transportation modes other than roads and bridges. Other modes are dependent on annual appropriations from the legislature and some federal funds.

“When it comes to multimodal transportation, Missouri has untapped potential. Better integration of all these different modes of transportation can make our system more robust,” Miller said.

Team Talk  
Hello, Team MoDOT! On Tuesday I had the opportunity to see your submissions for the Innovations Showcase at the DOMInno meeting in Springfield, Mo. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the creativity and inventiveness on display. It reminded me of the MoDOT value that all of our innovators truly have adopted: Be Better.

These employees saw something in their everyday work they knew could be better and took on the challenge to find the solution. They found ways to get their work done better, faster, cheaper, and safer. In the next week, videos and other information from the showcase will be available to all employees so you can see just how they did it and how to replicate the innovations for your own use. I’ll also be talking to Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger and Asst. Chief Engineer Kathy Harvey about a plan I have for the innovations and really driving the adoption across MoDOT districts and divisions. We shouldn’t let great ideas stagnate for lack of support from leadership.

Being better at MoDOT is more than just innovation. We strive to be better because it is a fundamental principle and philosophy of our department:

Be Better.

  • disney quoteI Always Try to Improve My Results. I continually look for ways to reduce the cost of my work while still delivering quality products and services.
  • I Improve Myself. I take advantage of opportunities to build my work skills and knowledge.
  • I Watch for Ways to Innovate. I take advantage of new products and technology whenever I can.
  • So We Get Better Each Day. I approach each day as an opportunity to improve.

We’ve all had days where it’s all you can do to hold on tight and get through the day. Sometimes it’s hard to approach each day as an opportunity to improve. Striving to be better is certainly not the easiest path, because you have to challenge the routine of your daily life to move forward.

It’s my hope that even on those days where you’re scrambling to stay on top of things, you can take a minute or two to put things in perspective, think about what went well, what could have gone better and acknowledge that tomorrow is an opportunity to Be Better.

MoDOT is considered a national leader because we truly live our values. A few months ago in this column, I talked about how important it was to innovate and be bold, and it was easy to create a list of our achievements –from the Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement program to Practical Design. In December, I even issued a classic “double dog dare” to all employees, to come up with a submission for the Innovations Challenge.

And the result? Exactly what I expected: Success. Leading the way, being innovative, bold, and BETTER just comes naturally to us. No matter the challenges that lie ahead, I know we will not only succeed, but excel. Walt Disney spent much of his early life in Missouri, so I’m happy to quote him as a famous Missourian: “Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done, and done right.”

Mr. Disney would have fit right in at MoDOT.

Remember to Complete Your Employee Survey  

By now, you should have received the 2014 MoDOT employee survey in the mail. You can complete the paper survey at home or bring it to work to complete. The paper survey also has the address for an online version. You can choose whichever way is more convenient for you. If you haven’t received a paper survey at your home address, please contact Phillips and Associates at, or call (636) 394-4430.

Your survey needs to be mailed or completed online no later than April 30 to be part of this year’s survey results.

2014 MoDOT Employee Survey Frequently Asked Questions

surveyQ. With all the talk of funding problems, why are we doing an employee survey?

A. It’s been four years since our last employee survey, and we’ve gone through a lot of change.  Department managers need to hear from employees to make the best decisions on how we can move MoDOT forward together.

Q. Why use a consultant for the survey?

A. MoDOT chose to use a consultant to ensure your responses are kept confidential and the survey results are analyzed by someone without any preconceptions about our organization.

Q. Can I complete the survey at work?

A. Yes.  You can fill out the paper survey or the online version during normal working hours.  Your supervisor may ask you to do it at the beginning or end of your workday to reduce the impact on others in your work group.  However, if you choose to complete the survey at home, it will be on your own time. 

Q. Will my responses really be confidential?

A. Yes.  The only person who will view your completed survey will be our consultant.  Paper copies of the surveys will be destroyed once the responses are entered into the consultant’s database.

Q. Who will see my written comments?

A. The consultant will collect written comments in a single document that will be shared with MoDOT’s director, chief engineer, chief financial officer and the human resources director.  Comments involving issues of discrimination, harassment or illegal employee activity will be forwarded to the Audits and Investigations Division.  A summary of the types of written comments received will be included in the final report.  However, details that might track the comments to an individual person or work unit will be removed.

Q. What will happen to the results of the survey?

A. Your survey answers will be combined with all the other employee responses from across the state.  The overall results will be analyzed at the statewide level as well as all seven districts and the Central Office.  The final survey report will be posted on the department’s intranet in July.

In the months following the final report, our consultant will work with MoDOT senior managers to develop action plans to address issues identified in the survey.

Rediscovering St. Louis – A 250 Year Story  

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the founding of the City of St. Louis. What better way to celebrate this milestone than uncovering evidence dating back to the first years of the city’s history? During an excavation by MoDOT archeologists beneath Poplar Street Bridge in St. Louis, Michael Meyer and his team uncovered evidence of where a French colonial home which stood before the Louisiana Purchase.

Colonial-period French ceramics recovered from the excavation site. The left and center images are pieces of Rouen polychrome faience and would have been more expensive and used for display instead of everyday use; the upper right image is a sherd of Provence Yellow on White faience; the lower right image is a small sherd of green lead-glazed coarse earthenware that would have been used daily and is similar to what most European countries were making during that time.

“I’ve been working in archeology for 22 years and I’ve done a great number of different archeological sites from Civil War battlefields to colonial plantations. I feel that this excavation is probably the most significant thing that I have ever personally worked on or seen,” Meyer said.

These findings help to substantiate early documentation of how early settlers lived. An 1804 inventory states that the home was built in 1769, a mere five years after the founding of the city. The records claim that the home belonged to a man named Joseph Bouchard.

In a second home found nearby, archeologists found ceramics that Meyer believes to be French tin-enameled faience which dates back to the 1700s. These are the oldest archeological artifacts ever found in the city. Meyers states that these artifacts provide insight into the status and customs of the people living here. The blue fragment for example (see picture) was expensive tableware imported from France and was probably only for display rather than actual use.

According to Meyer, these sites were lost to time for a reason. “When people build new buildings, they don’t necessarily dig out the old buildings," said Meyer. "What they merely do is they demolish and tear down the old buildings, lay some fresh soil, some clean fill on top, and build on top of that.”

Dig dig
Brianne Greenwood, senior historic preservation specialist, is hand-excavating the remains of the Joseph Bouchard house. The house was originally constructed of vertical wood posts in 1769, but all that remains are dark stains in the soil. Rusty Weisman, senior historic preservation specialist, is excavating a large basin-shaped pit containing colonial-period ceramics and a significant quantity of food bone.

These artifacts hidden for centuries were found due to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 which requires archeologists to examine any area scheduled for construction before the construction can begin. Although the bridge was built prior to the 1966 federal law, archeologists have uncovered two city blocks of the area, preparing for major work to be done to the interstate ramps.

"This work is being done because, in general, people see value in this and the amount of work we do is measured against how important the resource is," said Meyer. "Because we consider this to be phenomenally significant, we expend additional resources on this type of project.”

MoDOT and the National Park Service agreed to display findings from this site, as well as others that MoDOT has worked on in the city, in future exhibits at the Museum of Westward Expansion beneath the Gateway Arch.

Safety Campaigns  
distractedBuckle Up and Pay Attention
Warm April days find more motorists on Missouri’s roadways. Some are on a mission, while others are just out on a leisurely drive to see the sights of spring.

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety reminds motorists that law enforcement will be out in full force on April 14, cracking down on unbelted motorists and encouraging drivers to not drive distracted.

April is National Distracted Driving Month. This year, in cooperation with the “Click It or Ticket” enforcement day, drivers will be strongly encouraged to pay attention to the primary task of driving.

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from driving, such as texting, eating, grooming, or even talking to other passengers in the vehicle. All of these could be very dangerous. However, because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most deadly distraction.

For more information visit



Can They See You? Don’t Bet Your Life On It.

Commercial motor vehicles are an important part of our nation’s economy. They carry goods from coast to coast, and make up 20 percent of all traffic on Missouri’s interstates.

Crashes involving tractor trailers don’t happen very often, but when they do, the disproportionate size of truck versus car means those crashes can often involve serious injuries or worse. Research shows that in the majority of these crashes, drivers of passenger cars, especially young people, unnecessarily endanger themselves by not paying attention and driving recklessly around big rigs. That’s why it’s so important for all motorists to drive safely around big trucks.

  • Don’t cut off large trucks or busses. Make sure you can see the top of the truck or bus in your rearview mirror before moving back into your original lane.
  • Stay out of the “No Zone." Big rigs have large blind spots on either side and up to 200 feet behind a vehicle. Pass only on the left side.
  • Watch your following distance. Keep a safety cushion around trucks. Can you see the truck’s side mirrors? If not, the driver cannot see you.

For additional information regarding roadway safety, or other transportation-related topics, contact the MoDOT Customer Service Center toll free, at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636). For more information on the Big Trucks Campaign, visit

Fatality Update  
What's Happening  
Ed Chat With the Chief
Remember to check out Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger's blog post on Work Zone Awareness Week - Chat
With the Chief

Highway ogo

April is National Stress Awareness Month

This month's Highway to Better Health newsletter, provided by Coventry, focuses on managing stress. Check out all the helpful information provided in this month's newsletter to help you get a handle on managing stress and living a healthier life.

The newsletter can be found on the Central Office page in this edition of Connections - Central Office.



Oh Say, Can You Sing?

The State of Missouri is looking for home-grown talent. Would you like to sing for your fellow state employees?

Missouri’s celebration of State Employee Recognition Day on May 29 includes the singing of our National Anthem and “God Bless America” during an opening ceremony on the Capitol steps.

If you are interested in applying, please send a note to by the end of the business day, April 14. Be sure to have your supervisor’s permission to audition on April 22 and perform on May 29.


Defer Comp Video

Adding It Up: It's Your Time
There’s a popular savings example that follows two employees who start saving for retirement at different times during their careers. Watch this month's video from Missouri's Deferred Compensation Plan to see how saving early in your career for retirement really adds up - Adding It Up.



April Service Anniversaries

30 Years
Ronald D. Ettinger - NW
Jeffrey W. Lewis - NW
Douglas Harold Basham - CD
Randall Dean Potts - CD
James William Sharp - SW
David M. O'Connor – SW

25 Years
John L. Blades - NW
Mark A. Wiley - NW
Douglas L. White - NW
Douglas K. Mullins - KC
Betty Louise Shadwick - CD
Andrew Fredrick Goeller - CD
Shirley K. Bock – CO

20 Years
Thomas C. Judah - NW
C. Joseph Pappert - NW
Kelly Franklin Kurtz - NW
David J. Liebhart - NE
Simon M. Begley - NE
Bobby Gene Boyles - NE
Joseph P. Collins - NE
Raymond L. Smith - NE
Robert R. Deters - NE
Deborah F. Lipper - NE
Teresa Lynn Zeiger - NE
David A. Bower - KC
Craig Leonard Burgett - KC
Doug L. Sardeson - KC
Brad E. Watkins - KC
James Byron Bentley – KC
Curt D. Kolb - CD
Terry Marshall Morgan - CD
Donald M. Cox - CD
Richard L. Fennewald - SL
Jason Douglas White - SL
Jimmy James Couffer - SW
Jeff M. Divine - SW
Garry Eugene Brammer - SW
Eric J. Henson - SE
Larry D. Pierce - SE
Louis C. Trotter - SE
Jeffrey D. Jarrell - SE
Sheri J. Lamberson - CO
Leslie A. Wieberg - CO

20 Years Continued

Diane R. Roegge - CO
Mary A. Jacobs - CO
Stanley Patrick Hoelscher - CO
Tina V. Vogt - CO
Thomas R. Honich – CO

15 Years
Ben L. Cox - NW
Kendra Michelle Ezzell - NW
Darin J. Huitt - NW
Dawn Michelle Miller - NE
Roy Kim Niemeyer - NE
Ronald D. Wilson - NE
Scott L. Brelsford - KC
John Patrick Sprigg - KC
Bedford E. Cline - KC
Shane Allen Blackburn - CD
Gary Lee Ludwick - SL
Charles Prince Gray - SL
Joseph A. Rocchio - SL
John W. Garner - SL
Onas E. Hart - SW
Bradley G. Mullings - SW
Robert L. Smith - SW
Keith Matthew Maddux - SW
Daniel J. Autrey - SE
John H. Caldwell - SE
Michael J. Crudgington - SE
Jonathan E. Estes - SE
Amos Paul Purcell - SE
Gary Allen Beauchamp - SE
Tommy G. White - SE
Scotty Dale Earnheart - SE
Danny R. Heuring - SE
Steven L. Smith - SE
Shannon L. Lock – CO

10 Years
Mark A. Redding - NW
Aaron G. Cartee - NW
Kenneth E. Ingersoll - NW
Matthew G. Swisher - NE
Deryl F. Gosseen - NE
Thomas Clay Ragland - NE
Nancy Jayne Engelhart - KC
Robert D. Simmons – KC
Jeffrey D. Mays - KC

10 Years Continued

Sally S. Oxenhandler - CD
Bradley Jay Rumfelt - CD
Roger W. Achurch - CD
Gregory Thomas Lyon - CD
Steven Edward Scott - SL
Eugene Presley - SL
Jeremy A. Belcavitch - SW
Danny W. Cook - SW
Martin Wesley Hawkins - SW
Kurt Thomas Bagley - SW
Duane Norman Johnson - SW
David E. Bell - SW
Rick G. Hamm - SE
Travis M. Sanders - SE
Timothy L. Bowers - SE
Travis L. Crafton - SE
Justin W. Hills - SE
Julie Ann Herigon - CO
William Chad Abbott - CO
Jessica Ann Cox – CO

5 Years
Kevin K. Adkins - NW
Michael D. Hilsabeck - NW
John Douglas Shores - NW
Steve I. Walker - NE
Matthew J. Carroll - NE
Ismael C. Sierra - KC
Jeremy A. Diebal - CD
Kristopher A. Horbyk - CD
Gerald David Lamons - CD
Jason Allen Phelps - CD
Brian D. Deppe - CD
Todd Michael Bowles - SL
Marc J. Jackson - SL
Kevin Lowell Mullins - SL
Michael James Love - SL
Jeffrey Michael Conway - SW
Brian J. Jones - SW
Michael E. Guffey - SW
William A. Bates - SE
Ronald Knobloch - SE
Joyce Ann Jaegers - CO
Robert W. Henson – CO (Jan.)


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