MoDOT's Hungerbeeler

Hannibal Courier-Post

Ever have a job where no matter how hard you tried and how well you did, you were still the target of criticism from all sides? Welcome to Henry Hungerbeeler's world. ...

Hungerbeeler, who announced ... that he is resigning as the state transportation department director, has had his hands full since taking over those duties in March 1999. ...

The biggest task Hungerbeeler has faced is the rebuilding of the department's credibility, which took a tremendous hit in 1998 when the Highways and Transportation Commission dropped a 15-year highway plan, adopted in 1992 along with a tax increase, because it was underfunded.

Last year, when voters overwhelmingly rejected a roughly $500 million transportation tax plan, elected officials and transportation commissioners all blamed the agency's lack of credibility with the public.

A citizens advisory panel recently recommended top management changes for the Missouri Department of Transportation. While Hungerbeeler does not believe he is the intended target of the panel's recommendation, he said in his letter of resignation that he has "concluded that the agency could benefit from new leadership." We believe Hungerbeeler deserves credit for his work as MoDOT's head. ... Not all of MoDOT's new policies have been embraced, such as the decision to close some maintenance sheds in small communities, but even that is being done in an effort to make the department more efficient.

While Hungerbeeler has been a popular whipping boy for MoDOT's problems, many of which are beyond his control, we believe he has helped bring back a level of credibility to that department. Consequently, we feel he deserves thanks for having done a thankless job.