JEFFERSON CITY - "Pete Rahn is one of the country's most innovative transportation officials," according to Governing magazine who named him as one of their 2009 Public Officials of the Year. Rahn's willingness to take risks and his desire to make a difference helped him become the first state transportation director to earn this national honor in the 23-year history of the award.
"I am deeply honored to be selected by Governing magazine for this prestigious award," said Pete Rahn, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation. "It is gratifying to serve in a position that truly impacts people in their daily lives. The credit should go to 6,300 MoDOT employees who work hard every day to improve the lives of all Missourians. As a result, Missourians are reaping the benefits of improved roads and bridges, good paying jobs and a safer transportation system."
Noting the success of Missouri's New I-64 project in St. Louis, Governing magazine specifically praised Rahn's ability to "partner with the private sector in unique ways to build large-scale transportation projects quickly and affordably."
The New I-64 is the largest construction project in Missouri history. It involves the reconstruction of 10 miles of interstate highway, interchanges and bridges on Interstate 64/Highway 40 in St. Louis.
Governing also lauded Rahn's ability to make a difference, "by giving contractors vast flexibility but holding them strictly accountable for their work."
One of his first major initiatives was to address Missouri's aging road infrastructure with the Smooth Roads Initiative made possible by the passage of a constitutional amendment in 2004 that provided additional funds for road improvements. Completed one year ahead of schedule in December 2006, the initiative brought 74 percent of Missouri's major highways up to good condition - an increase from 47 percent in 2004. Today, 83.4 percent are in good condition.
Rahn's Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program to fix 802 of the state's worst bridges was launched in September 2008. More than 100 bridges are already complete in the first year of the program.
He has also directed the department to apply several radical cost control measures that have enabled MoDOT to deliver projects under budget and on schedule. For the last five fiscal years, MoDOT has awarded 2,151 projects costing $5.7 billion 5.5 percent under budget saving taxpayers more than $334 million.
The results of these tremendous efforts are clear. Most importantly, Missouri has seen a 24 percent decrease in traffic fatalities since 2005.
Missouri's rank in overall performance of its state highway system jumped 11 spots in one year, from 28th in 2004 to 17th in 2005, according to the Reason Foundation.
In addition, customer satisfaction with the job MoDOT is doing stands at 85 percent. Plus, a remarkable 89 percent of Missourians now trust MoDOT to keep its commitments.
Rahn was selected as one of Governing magazine's 2009 Public Officials of the Year based on a nomination submitted by one of his colleagues, Deb Miller, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The Governing magazine article featuring Rahn, is available at http://www.governing.com/poy/2009/rahn/.