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MoDOT Gets Chilly Reception on Planned Luray Closure
By Mike Scott
MoDOT’s Northeast District Engineer Paula Gough got a cool reception from Clark County residents on Thursday morning, May 12, as she presented a community briefing to the Clark County Commissioners and members of the public on MoDOT’s “Bolder Fire-Year Direction”. The plan, designed to cut over $500 million dollars of MoDOT expenses, includes the closure of 135 facilities statewide, including the maintenance facility in Luray, leaving the Wayland facility as the only one in Clark County.
“For a number of years, we’ve been talking about the coming funding cliff,” Gough said. “We’ve now gone over that cliff.”
For the last five years, MoDOT’s construction program has averaged $1.2 billion dollars. Moving forward, they have less than half of that amount, forcing the deep cuts. The plan cuts facilities, equipment, engineers and administration, but leaves the number of maintenance workers steady.
“Our State Transportation Improvement Plan focuses on taking care of the system There are no big projects being planned,” Gough said.
Gough explained how MoDOT’s consolidation plan would close the Luray shed.
“We have 3700 miles of road in th district that we have to take care of the with the resources we have available.
“Most operations require a crew of more than 3-4 workers, so they are already working with neighboring sheds,” she said..
Snow removal was a major concern of those in attendance.
“Our priority is US 61 and 27,” Gough said. “We will have continuous plowing on those highways, then we will work on other major roads, like Hwy. 136. Our goal will be to get to each of the minor roads at least once a day.”
Citizens in attendance expressed concerns that the plow trucks would have additional wear and tear, use additional fuel and have to return to reload sand and salt more often if they are driving longer distances caused by
being based out of the eastern part of the county.
“It looks like you’re just going to where the population is, and everyone else is just stuck,” said Presiding Commissioner Ron Brewer. Brewer also noted that during this year’s blizzard, most of the county’s roads were open before some of the state roads.
In a show of hands, 11 of the 17 people in attendance wer opposed to closing the Luray shed. Two media members remained neutral in the vote.