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The Missouri Department of Transportation is taking its message of budget cuts to the public. The department that oversees Missouri’s roads and bridges is slashing its budget because it says funding has fallen dramatically. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports.
MoDOT’s new plan will reduce the size of the department’s staff by 1,200 positions, shut down 135 facilities, and sell more than 740 pieces of equipment.
District engineer Kirk Juranus told a public forum Monday that MoDOT is downsizing from ten districts to seven. Most of the facilities closing are maintenance buildings. It will also close three district offices, and will do away with 444 positions currently held by managers and supervisors.
Joplin and Willow Springs will both lose their district offices.
In southwest Missouri, 26 facilities will be closed—most of which are maintenance offices. The maintenance offices closing will be in: Conway, Drury, Fair Grove, Humansville, Manes, Reuter, Seymour, Strafford, Sunshine, Walnut Grove, Wasola, Wheatland, Appleton City, Collins, Golden City, Jenkins, Liberal, Longview, Phelps, Rich Hill, Seneca, Sheldon, and Sarcoxie. Also, Carthage and Buffalo will lose MoDOT offices.In MoDOT’s south Central district, maintenance facilities will shut down in Dixon, Ellsinore, Eminence, Licking, St. James, Success and Thayer. Also, Van Buren will lose its office.
Juranus said that despite the reductions, inspections of road and bridge safety will continue.
“We won’t be able to continue to add new bright signing, guard cable, rumble stripes, and those kinds of things. On our minor roads, we’re actually only going to stripe them once every other year to see if we can’t stretch our money a little bit further. So some of those nice devices out there that have saved lives—we will continue to operate, and we will continue to maintain them…but we won’t add as many as we have in the past,” he said.Juranus said MoDOT will have to reduce its workforce by 19 percent. It will relocate employees, and will lay off others. He said he’s a perfect example of the changes.“We talk about attrition, and relocation. And Becky Baltz is the district engineer in Joplin, and I’m the district engineer here in Springfield. So obviously with the consolidation of the two districts, we can’t have two district engineers. So I was asked to move to the central district,” he said.To find out more about MoDOT’s five year plan of scaling back, including a link to “Frequently Asked Questions,” you can visit www.modot.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.