Before coming to take charge of the Missouri Department of Transportation, Pete Rahn said he had read that MoDOT was a broken organization with systems that didn't work.
But Tuesday, after about 75 days on the job, Rahn told the more than 100 attendees at the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce's annual transportation dinner that his initial impression wasn't at all reality. However he did say that while MoDOT's been doing a lot of things right, under his leadership the organization will go about things a bit differently. He summed up that new approach with the agency's new slogan "Smoother, safer, sooner."
"MoDOT needed a break," said Rahn, who took charge of MoDOT Sept. 15. "Amendment 3 was it."
Rahn said that the Nov. 2 passage of Amendment 3, which will redirect transportation taxes into MoDOT hands for transportation improvements, was a vote of public confidence in his agency's ability to handle the task. At the dinner, he said the additional revenue will be divided into three areas.
First, he said $400 million will go toward improving 2,200 miles of road that handle 60 percent of the state's traffic. Those improvements will include brighter pavement markings and better signage for safety, and a smoother surface for a better ride.
"You'll be able to feel the difference in the seat of your pants," Rahn said. He added that MoDOT was attacking this component with an aggressive schedule that will complete the work in three years.
The second component will be to direct $300 million to $500 million toward important projects not yet started.
Rahn said the remaining $1.3 billion will be used to focus on key projects that can leverage other resources and finish projects that are nearing completion. He said there are a number of projects in the state that are only 20 to 30 miles from being completed.
Rahn also made it clear that he and MoDOT will approach projects with the goal of completing them all at once, as opposed to the piecemeal way in which the state's transportation projects previously have been handled.
335-6611, extension 137