Plans to close the Missouri Department of Transportation's district office in Joplin will be one of the items discussed at a series of community briefings that are scheduled to be held throughout the southwest Missouri region over the next three weeks.
One of the meetings will be held at the Barry County Courthouse in Cassville on Thursday, May 26. The meeting will start at 10:30 a.m., and all area residents are encouraged to attend.
Another meeting will be held at the Lawrence County Courthouse in Mt. Vernon on Wednesday, May 18 at 3 p.m. Additional briefings are planned in Lamar, Stockton, Greenfield, Joplin, Pineville, Neosho and Osceola.
According to MoDOT officials, the purpose of the public meetings is to share the department's five-year plan that involves reducing staff by 1,200, closing 135 facilities and selling more than 740 pieces of equipment.
The proposed action, which includes closing district offices in Macon, Joplin and Willow Springs, is expected to save MoDOT $512 million that will be used for road and bridge projects.
"We want to give our customers a chance to ask any questions they might have," said Southwest District Engineer Becky Baltz. "We will maintain the level of service in our communities . . . with fewer staff."
More information on the five-year plan that MoDOT officials are labeling as a "bolder plan" can be found at http://www.modot.org.
The Missouri Highway Commission is expected to act on the proposal at its June 8 meeting. If approved, the department will begin putting the recommendations in place immediately. Full implementation will be completed by December 2012.