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Cutting costs at MoDOT boosts funds for construction

By   /   March 25, 2011  /   News  /   No Comments

With federal stimulus funds running out and financing from bonds ending, the Missouri Department of Transportation is cutting administrative costs to boost funding amounts for contractor awards.

Route 5 in Camden County, courtesy MoDOT

Since announcing its five-year plan last year in March, MoDOT has identified $70 million in cost reductions.

The measures include trimming the payroll at the department by more than 300 state employees.

“We are way ahead of schedule,” said Jorma Duran, a spokesperson for MoDOT, referring to work force reductions. The five-year transportation plan calls for saving $203 million and cutting 400 positions.

“We believe the $203 million mark may be much greater,” Duran said. “All the money we save comes right back into our transportation infrastructure.”

MoDOT is continuing to sound the alarm, however, about future funding. The department is warning its construction program has been cut in half from an average of $1.2 billion to around $600 million a year. This means instead of new projects, the focus will be on maintenance.

“We are going to work hard at tightening our belt,” Duran told Missouri Watchdog, noting that no one wants to be taxed anymore. “But without some sort of future funding source we are going to be maintaining not improving.”

As Missouri Watchdog reported last July, MoDOT received approval of $662 million for contractor awards for fiscal 2011, falling to $477 million in 2015.

The total amounts have now increased, however, due to the cost cutting measures, according to Ben Reeser, the financial resource administrator at MoDOT.

Instead of a $507 million total in 2012 for construction awards, MoDOT is projecting $628 million in 2012, dropping down to $602 million in 2013, $599 million in 2014 and $591 million in 2015.

Federal stimulus funding provided a boost in construction spending across Missouri in 2009 and 2010. Funding from the passage of Amendment 3 by voters in 2004, which allowed the the department to finance new projects with bonds, also boosted contractor awards. But the last few Amendment 3 projects are now being funded.

By Brian R. Hookbrhook@missouriwatchdog.org, (314) 482-7944

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Brian formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.