JEFFERSON CITY - A year ago this month, the Missouri Department of Transportation announced it would save $203 million over the next five years by cutting costs and eliminating 400 salaried positions by June 30, 2013.
Now a year into that plan, the department is on pace to meet those targets. MoDOT has reduced the size of its workforce by more than 300 employees. As a result of those staff reductions and other belt-tightening measures, the department has identified $70 million in cost savings to date.
A portion of that money has been used to improve the state's highways and is already reaping results. The percentage of minor roads in good condition rose from 60 percent in 2009 to 68 percent in 2010, while major roads remained at about 86 percent in good condition.
"These figures show we're doing what we said we'd do as part of our five-year direction - keep major roads in good condition and improve minor roads," MoDOT Director Kevin Keith said. "We're holding our own, but that won't last for very long."
Keith said the severe drop in highway funding should be a wake-up call. The good roads and improved bridges Missourians have enjoyed for the past six years will start to deteriorate without more money for transportation projects.
"Investing in transportation creates jobs, makes our highways better and safer and increases our transportation options, which all contribute to a higher quality of life," Keith said. "If we don't take some action in the near future to increase funding for transportation, we risk losing lives, jobs and businesses, and that impacts all of us."
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