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Building public trust in the state's Transportation Department was the theme of the State of Transportation Address Wednesday. Missy Shelton reports.
MODOT Director Pete Rahn has been on the job for less than five months.
But he told lawmakers in his State of Transportation Address that he's aware of the need to rebuild the public's trust.
Lawmakers say there were pleased to hear of Pete Rahn's willingness to make the department more open to public scrutiny.
Republican Jon Dolan chairs the Senate Transportation committee.
He says the department must build public trust before asking for more money from taxpayers.
Highway Commissioner Jim Anderson of Springfield says he was pleased with Rahn's speech.
He says it's critical to build public trust before asking for more taxpayer support.
Last November, voters approved Amendment 3, which ensures dedicated highway funds go exclusively to the highway department.
Anderson says the department must use the money from Amendment 3 wisely.
In his State of Transportation Address, Pete Rahn didn't specifically call on lawmakers to provide more funding for highways.
Instead, MODOT Director Pete Rahn pointed out how much Missouri spends on roads, as compared with other states.
Some lawmakers say Rahn made a good case in his speech for additional funding for highway construction and repair.
But Senator Jon Dolan says now is not the time to ask voters for a transportation tax increase.
And at a press conference after his speech, MODOT Director Pete Rahn said the department will be busy in the next couple of years with projects funded by Amendment Three.
In his speech, Pete Rahn talked about an issue that could mean a boost in federal funding for roads.
Rahn urged lawmakers to give police officers the authority to pull over drivers who aren't wearing a seat belt.
Right now, it's a secondary violation and officers can't pull you over exclusively for failing to wear your seat belt.
Though passing such a law could mean an extra 16 millions dollars from the federal government, Rahn told lawmakers to pass the bill because it will prevent death and injury.
But some lawmakers oppose the idea of giving police officers broader powers to stop drivers.
Representative Mark Wright of Springfield says it's a bad idea.
Supporters of the tighter seat belt law say they're trying to address the concerns of lawmakers like Mark Wright so they can get the proposal through the legislature this session.