June 16, 2005

MoDOT Says ‘Practical Design’ Will Save Almost $400 million

Using a new concept for highway design, the Missouri Department of Transportation will save nearly $400 million over the next five years, department officials said today. By using “Practical Design” when planning highway construction projects, MoDOT will customize projects to fit specific needs, rather than apply generic standards across the board. The money saved will fund additional projects.

The design concept and project savings were unveiled today at a meeting of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

“Our goal is to build the best transportation system in the country,” said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. “The bottom line to Practical Design is that MoDOT will be fixing more roads in Missouri.”

Using Practical Design, engineers and planners make project decisions based on the specific purpose and need for the improvement, modifying project features that are desirable, but not necessary. The cost savings total was determined by examining all projects scheduled for construction in the next five years.

“It’s a lot like when you go to buy a car,” Rahn said. “You might like to have leather seats, but cloth will do the job at a lower price. You can then spend the money you saved on something else.”

“Using the traditional approach to designing projects – like nearly all departments of transportation do - we’ve built some great projects, but in some cases we’ve built features that went above what was needed to address the problem,” said Chief Engineer Kevin Keith. “Practical design will focus us to build only what’s necessary to address the transportation need.

“For example, why replace an entire bridge if only a new bridge deck is needed,” Keith said.

Rahn emphasized the fundamental quality and safety of projects will not be compromised.

“Every project we build will remain high-quality and will address the needs. And two things I promise – we’ll never compromise safety, and every dollar saved will go back to the roads to improve our highway system.

“What we’re really after here is building good projects and building more of them. We can stretch our dollars to address more transportation needs than in the past. By building many good projects, we can create a great transportation system.”

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