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MODOT Hosted Community Briefing In Edina
By Echo Menges
Two Missouri Department of Transportation officials, Paula Gough and Dave Silvester, were at the Knox County courthouse Friday, May 13, 2011 to explain the proposed structural changes to the department and the closure of MODOT’s facility in Novelty, which is one of only two in Knox County. Nearly 20 county officials and citizens attended the meeting, which was held in the Knox County Commissioner’s chambers.
Gough explained to the crowd MODOT’s budget is being reduced by half from nearly $1.2 billion to $600,000, which is why MODOT is aggressively planning a complete overhaul in the way in which it operates. The new plan outlines a massive sell off of over 700 pieces of equipment, the closure of 135 facilities including the one in Novelty, and a loss of 1,200 employees ultimately meaning layoffs to state workers. Gough offered maps of what the current ten different districts MODOT operates look like and what the reorganized seven different districts will look like.
Gough claimed the changes will save over $500,000 off MODOT’s overblown budget making it lean and efficient while keeping all planned projects as is insisting the construction and maintenance end of the operation would not suffer.
Locals who attended the meeting expressed concern over the closure of the Novelty facility pointing out their concerns for the staff based in Novelty and their concern of whether the state roads in the county would suffer from lack of upkeep and whether it would have an effect on how long it would take MODOT to snow plow state roads within the county without the Novelty site.
Gough explained that it would change because in Novelty MODOT’s snow plows will no longer be plowing out of that facility. Instead that part of the county will have to wait for MODOT’s plows to plow in, which would obviously take longer and the most used state roadways would take priority. Gough explained the employees working out of the Novelty facility will be redirected to the Edina facility and Knox County wouldn’t loose any workers.
One attendee pointed out that when the facility in Rutledge was closed the same claims were made, but MODOT’s attention the roads there fell off, allowing many to got into disrepair and making it nearly impossible to go anywhere in Rutledge after a heavy snow.
At the end of the meeting both Gough and Silvester asked people give the state feedback by sending e-mails to MHTC@modot.mo.gov or by sending letters to MHTC Attn: Commission Secretary, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO 65102. Anyone can view the new plan at MODOT’s website.
The new plan could go into
effect as early as June 8, 2011. According to Silvester MODOT officials hope to have the new plan in full operation no later than December 31, 2012, but many changes including the closure of the Novelty facility should happen before winter. Once the plan is approved, which could be as early as June 8, 2011 at the next Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission meeting, MODOT will immediately begin the process of the massive overhaul.