Following a meeting that lasted several hours the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission decided to move forward with the plan to reorganize the Missouri Department of Transportation.
During its meeting in Jefferson City, commission members heard from groups based out of Macon, Joplin, Willow Springs, as well as lobby groups from the trucking, construction, and engineering fields. The meeting began at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
All of the groups presented their ideas as to why the Bolder five year plan should be changed. But in the end, the commission went along with the recommendation made by MoDOT's Executive Director.
One big change in the five year plan, is to allow the extension of the deadline of reducing the number of employees from December 31 of 2012 to March 31 of 2013.
The Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission listened, learned and discussed for almost six hours before saying 'yes' to saving taxpayers about a half-billion dollars over the next five years.
In a resolution, the six commission members adopted a plan that calls for reducing MoDOT's staff size by 1,200, closing 131 facilities and selling more than 740 pieces of equipment. By 2015, the plan - called the Bolder Five-Year Direction - will save $512 million that will be used for vital road and bridge projects. "MoDOT proposed the original plan just more than a month ago to deal with a budget shortfall on both the federal and state level. But after hearing from Missouri residents over the last month, MoDOT made some changes to the plan," said Paula Gough, the Northeast District Engineer. "Instead of one-point-two billion dollars for new roads, this plan will mean only road repair and maintenance across Missouri for the next five years."
The final plan calls for MoDOT to retain a significant presence in the three areas where the department will close district offices: Macon, Joplin and Willow Springs. About 70 to 80 employees will remain in each of those areas under the direction of an area engineer who will lead a team of engineering, operations, maintenance and support staff. The remaining complexes in the three locations will be called district regional offices.
Although the Macon office will no longer be called a "district office" there will be a staff of some sort on hand following the reorganization. MoDOT has not released the final details in that matter.
Click here to read the official press release from MoDOT.
We are disappointed the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission acted so quickly on a proposal of such magnitude which closes several MoDOT facilities and reduces staff. Thirty days is simply not enough time for the Commission to consider the impact of the proposed changes, especially in light of the fact that our elected officials, community leaders and other interested citizens had no opportunity for input until the plan was announced, said Blake Hurst, president of Missouri Farm Bureau. Missouri Farm Bureau is concerned the plan approved today will have a negative effect on the delivery of MoDOT services to rural Missouri.- Statement of Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst, Regarding Action of Mo Highway & Transportation Commission
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