More than 600 of its employees had the coronavirus, according to the Missouri transportation director. Patrick McKenna, director of the State Department of Transportation (MoDOT), testified before the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight in Jefferson City Monday and delivered the MoDOT annual report.
MoDOT employs around 5,100 people. McKenna testifies that they have managed to slow the transmission rate down in the past 45 to 60 days. MoDOT has implemented the boxed-in strategy. If a person tests positive at a MoDOT facility, McKenna says they will test anyone who has been at that facility in seven days.
The pandemic is a key theme in the agency’s nine-page annual report. MoDOT finds that state highway users’ actual revenues from fuel, vehicle sales, and vehicle and driver’s licenses were approximately $ 38 million lower than forecast for fiscal 2020.
McKenna testifies that the main goal during the pandemic was to keep the transportation network open, and it did.
Director McKenna also testified about several key projects across the state. He announced that construction would begin in the spring of 2022 to replace the aging Buck O’Neil Bridge in Kansas City that connects Northland with downtown. According to McKenna, Massman-Clarkson was selected for the design-build contract.
“Last week the Commission (Missouri Highways and Transportation) just approved the design team and construction team for the Buck O’Neil Bridge, an important initiative for Kansas City,” said McKenna.
This is a $ 220 million project, and U.S. Representative Sam Graves, R-Tarkio helped raise $ 25 million in federal funding. Graves is the senior Republican on the US House Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill.
The current Buck O’Neil Bridge opened in 1956, and according to MoDOT, it uses around 50,000 vehicles a day.
Director McKenna is also promoting the massive I-270 north project. The $ 278 million project is the agency’s largest single project in the past decade. It runs along I-270 from I-70 to Riverview Drive. Several traffic junctions will be replaced and an external road network will be updated.
Safety was also a central theme of Director McKenna’s presentation to the legislature.
Despite the lower volume of traffic due to the COVID pandemic, Missouri recorded one of the highest road deaths in 2020. McKenna, Governor Mike Parson, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol raised concerns about the trends several times over the past year.
Director McKenna says that overspeeding and distracted driving are factors.
“We closed the year and it looks like 986 souls were lost on Missouri’s highways last year. That’s a good thing, we were under 900 last year, ”says McKenna. He also found that 66 percent of the vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts.
Missouri also had a record number of pedestrian deaths in 2020, according to McKenna.
The report also criticizes a new law that allows Missourians to ride motorcycles without a helmet. The report says 40 to 45 people will die as a result of this action every year.
The law, which went into effect in August, states that qualified riders aged 26 and over can ride a motorcycle or motorcycle without a helmet if they are covered by health insurance or any other form of insurance for which they would receive medical benefits as a result of an accident.
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