MoDOT's new district engineer counts on cooperation, not confrontation

Monday, July 18, 2005
Mark Shelton

Mark Shelton's a student of tae kwon do martial arts, but in his job as the new district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation in Southeast Missouri he's counting on cooperation and communication, not confrontation.

"We certainly don't want to go beat anybody up," he said.

"We have to be pro active in our public relations," said Shelton who believes the public should be kept informed of plans and progress when it comes to road and bridge projects.

"My philosophy is no surprises," said Shelton, 41, who took over as district engineer on July 1. "We are servants of the taxpayers of the state of Missouri."

Shelton replaced Scott Meyer, who resigned to take a job as director of facilities management at Southeast Missouri State University.

A graduate of the University of Missouri-Rolla, Shelton has worked for MoDOT for nearly 20 years. He most recently was assistant state construction and materials engineer at MoDOT's state headquarters in Jefferson City.

Shelton admits that his previous jobs at MoDOT have been largely behind-the-scenes positions that have drawn little public attention.

"In my positions in the past I dealt with contractors and material suppliers," he said.

In his new job, Shelton realizes he's the face of MoDOT for Southeast Missouri business, city and civic leaders as well as the general public.

"It will just be more of a public nature," he said of his new job during a visit to the MoDOT regional office in Sikeston last month as he prepared to settle into the district director position.

There's no shortage of MoDOT construction projects these days in Southeast Missouri. "There is so much to do I am going to have to delegate to get things done," he said.

But at the same time, Shelton said he plans to keep a close eye on projects.

He also plans to listen to what community leaders and the public wants in transportation improvements in the region. "We have to know what they want," he said.

But Shelton said MoDOT officials have to be honest in discussing proposed road improvements.

"We will never be able to satisfy everyone's wants," he said. The key, he said, is to focus on projects that most benefit the region.

Shelton said he also wants to promote a good relationship with contractors. "They build our projects. They know where innovations are in new construction," he said. "So we can work together to build good projects for the taxpayer."

When he's not working, Shelton likes to fish.

He's also coached his daughters' softball and soccer teams.

He and his wife, Sheila, have two daughters.

He and his daughter Katelyn, 10, have taken tae kwon do classes. "It's something we can do together," he said.

Shelton said he's equally proud of his other daughter, Jordan, 14, who plays the trumpet.

When he's not praising his family, he's praising MoDOT's new "practical design" philosophy which is intended to make for more economical roadwork.

"Does it make sense to build a Cadillac when I can build a Chevy and have money left over to have another Chevy somewhere else?" he asked.

Shelton helped push the concept in his job at MoDOT's central office and plans to do the same in his new position.

"That gives us the opportunity to stretch the dollars so we can meet the needs," he said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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