Thursday, May 5, 2011

MODOT announces job cuts, facility closures

The Missouri Department of Transportation has announced plans to eliminate 12,000 jobs and close 135 facilities across the state.

The reductions will help the state cope with a sharp drop in funding for road construction.

For the past five years, MoDOT has been able to spend about $1.2 billion a year on road construction and maintenance.

Due to a variety of factors, that annual number has been cut in half for the next five years.

Department director Kevin Keith says the $500 million in savings the layoffs and closures will generate will be redirected to make up part of that reduction.

"This is hard," Keith said. "There is no other way for me to describe it. It’s hard on the employees, it’s hard on communities. But we’re in a situation where we have to move forward and do something."

The plan doesn’t solve the agency’s long-term funding problems, Keith told the state’s Highways and Transportation Commission. The department’s yearly budget for road construction and maintenance will drop by half next year.

"But it does I think keep faith with the citizens and taxpayers of Missouri that we’re doing everything we can with the resources we have first before we deal with the next problem and that is how do we increase investment in infrastructure in this state," Keith said.

The cuts will save the agency 512 million over five years, which will be used to leverage federal dollars. Keith says the restructuring also allows any new revenue to go directly to roads.

Keith said the bulk of the job reductions will be at the agency’s central office in Jefferson City.

The closed facilities include MoDOT district offices in Macon, Joplin, and Willow Springs.

Rachel Lippman, St. Louis Public Radio


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