JEFFERSON CITY – Making lists is popular this time of year, whether it’s a holiday shopping list, a year-in-review list or a list of the things you’re pledging to do or not do in the new year. Topping the Missouri Department of Transportation’s list of 2009 accomplishments is a drop in highway fatalities for the fourth year in a row. Traffic deaths fell from 992 in 2007 to 960 in 2008 (the latest year for which firm figures are available). Between 2005 and 2008 traffic deaths decreased 24 percent, and preliminary figures for 2009 show the trend is continuing. Fatalities are down 10 percent when compared to 2008. Here are the rest of MoDOT’s top 10 accomplishments for 2009:
2. I-64 reopens early, under budget - Missourians had fun on the freeway on Dec. 6, the day before the second stretch of the new I-64 in St. Louis opened to traffic almost a month ahead of schedule and $11 million under budget. The opening culminated the largest project in MoDOT history, which involved rebuilding 10 miles of interstate highway in the heart of St. Louis.
3. Missouri claims first-in-the-nation recovery act project - Within minutes of President Barack Obama signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, MoDOT became the first state in the nation to put people to work on an economic stimulus project. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood commented: “Missouri has done a terrific job of using recovery funds to invest in good transportation projects across its cities, suburbs and rural communities. These efforts are really making a difference to the folks who live and work in Missouri.”
4. 86 percent of major highways now in good condition - The percentage of major highways in good condition rose to 86 percent in 2009, a hefty 39 percent jump from 2004 when only 47 percent of major roads were in good condition.
5. More than 100 bridges fixed - In the past year, MoDOT repaired or replaced 121 of the state’s worst bridges under its Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program. Since the program began in September 2008, the department has fixed a bad bridge every 1.8 days.
6. 89 percent of Missourians trust MoDOT to keep its commitments - “Our progress in improving roads and bridges, creating jobs, making our highways safer and impacting economic growth is reflected in the fact that 89 percent of Missourians trust us to keep our commitments, and 85 percent are satisfied with the job we’re doing,” MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said.
7. Radical cost control saves taxpayers millions – In the past fiscal year, MoDOT completed 461 projects under budget to the tune of $135 million.
8. Diverging diamond interchange is first in western hemisphere – In June, MoDOT delivered the first diverging diamond interchange in the western hemisphere at the intersection of Route 13 and Interstate 44 in Springfield, Mo. Popular Science magazine named the interchange one of its 100 best innovations of the year.
9. Mississippi River Bridge moves closer to construction - Bids for a new Mississippi River Bridge in St. Louis were opened Dec. 8. The $640 million, four-lane bridge will relocate Interstate 70 one mile north of the Martin Luther King Bridge and remove about 40,000 vehicles daily from existing downtown bridges.
10. Amtrak increases reliability - More than 90 percent of the Missouri River Runner trains that run between Kansas City and St. Louis arrived on time or ahead of schedule this past year. A contributing factor is a recently finished siding project located just west of California, Mo. that allows slower freight trains to move off the main track so faster passenger trains can pass through.
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Editor’s note: Downloadable video and sound bites are available at ftp://ftp.modot.org/CRmedia/News%20Stories/Top%2010%20for%202009/. To view this FTP site in Windows Explorer, click Page, and then click Open FTP Site in Windows Explorer. Then you can grab the files and drag them onto your desktop.