On Thursday, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Assistant District Engineer Dan Salisbury presented the Barry County Commission and several local community members with its plan to drastically cut spending over the next two years. The public presentation was made at the Barry County Courthouse in Cassville.
"We have a crisis in transportation funding," said Salisbury. "Amendment three boosted funding three years ago, but that funding is coming to an end.
"MoDOT's budget has been over $1.2 billion over the last six years," said Salisbury. "That funding has been cut in half. The department is going to go through a couple of transitions just to be able to take care of the road system. There will not be any new projects unless a community has the ability to fund a good part of the project."
According to Salisbury, in 2010, MoDOT presented a five-year plan to decrease spending. The department has already decreased mowing services and eliminated over 300 jobs.
"Federal funding, such as the highway trust fund, has become subsidized," said Salisbury. "We need to be ready for additional cuts. For this reason, MoDOT has created a bolder five-year direction. The goals of this plan are to make deeper cuts, including a reduction of 1,200 employees by Dec. 31, 2012."
In order to reduce the number of MoDOT employees, the department will close 135 facilities and sell 740 pieces of equipment.
"This will free up a one-time amount of $512 million," said Salisbury. "It will also offer an ongoing savings of $100 million per year."
"One of our biggest cost drivers is staff," said Salisbury. "We will be looking at better ways of using our staff. We will be reducing management and supervisory positions."
MoDOT plans to close the district offices in Macon, Joplin and Willard. Under the department's new plan, there will be only seven districts. The old District 7, based in Joplin, will merge with the old District 8, based in Springfield. The new local district will be known as the Southwest District.
The department will also reduce the number of resident district engineer offices by closing the Carthage facility and moving the Neosho office to Joplin.
"Southwest Missouri will not lose very many maintenance buildings, because we have been very aggressive about efficient operations in southwest Missouri," said Salisbury.
Maintenance facilities will be eliminated in Jenkins, Appleton City, Rich Hill, Sarcoxie and Longview. Employees working at those locations will have an opportunity to relocate to another facility, said Salisbury. This process should be completed by fall.
"MoDOT will also reduce the number of divisions in Jefferson City by combining offices and positions," said Salisbury. "We will have to do some layoffs at the end of this process."
All of the funds saved through the downsizing process will be used to maintain state roadways. The department will focus on major highways first, and complete maintenance projects on secondary roadways as funding allows.