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One local Missouri Department of Transportation worker is preparing to take a month of vacation time, but instead of heading to a tropical island, Kris Sandgren will be battling the elements on his bicycle. KSMU’s Chasity Mayes spoke with Sandgren while he was patching potholes on Glenstone Avenue to find out why he is traveling 2,500 miles for a cause that is close to his heart.
“We’d work together, we’d joked together, [and] we’d sat down and had lunch together.”
Kris Sandgren recalls two fellow construction workers who were killed on job sites. Sandgren is a member of the maintenance crew at the Springfield office of the Missouri Department of Transportation, or MoDOT. In Sandgren’s 10 years with the department, he was often told stories about MoDOT workers across the state who had been killed while doing road construction. He says it wasn’t until two men from his own office died after being hit by oncoming traffic that he found himself wanting to give back.
“Some of the last two that had fallen here at MoDot were some guys that I had worked with and I’d talked to. You know, I could see their face. It just really changed everything for me,” says Sandgren.
Plans were already in place to create a memorial for MoDOT’s fallen employees before Sandgren decided to get involved. He liked the idea of a monument to represent the workers who had lost their lives and he was inspired when he heard about a man who walked from St. Louis to Jefferson City to raise money for the memorial. That made Sandgren wonder: What kind of money could he raise with a bike ride?
“And I’ve made some trips before so it’s something I know I can do. And I offered to ride from any location they picked on the west coast into Jefferson City if they thought they could raise money for the monument,” says Sandgren.
Sandgren is hoping people will donate at least one cent per mile. He says each 25 dollar gift will go directly toward MoDOT’s Fallen Workers Memorial which will be located on the capital grounds in Jefferson City. Providing some funding for the monument, which is estimated to cost $94,000 is the ultimate goal, but not the only one. He’s also trying to raise awareness by encouraging drivers to slow down and realize what’s really at stake.
“If just a few people coming through the work zone would slow down to that speed posted you know, you’re basically forcing everybody else to do the same,” says Sandgren.
Sandgren, whose 2,500 mile trek will start on June 21st, is traveling alone with nothing more than a tent, sleeping bag, and an air mattress. The estimated 30 day trip will begin in Anacortes, Washington and finish in Jefferson City, Missouri.
MoDOT is not providing any financial support to Sandgren, but he says the department is giving him much needed encouragement. The memorial cannot be built until there is enough funding.
We have a link to more information on our website: KSMU.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Chasity Mayes.