MoDOT Director writes to bicyclists and pedestrians, explains MoDOT Complete Streets opposition


MoDOT Director Pete Rahn

Tuesday the Missouri Bicycle Federation received an informative letter from MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. The letter outlines MoDOT's position on the recent realignment of MoDOT's Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator position, MoDOT's recent opposition to the Complete Streets Bill introduced by Rep. Mike Sutherland, the upcoming 800 Bridge project, MoDOT's attitude towards Amendment 3 spending, and other matters of interest.

Below Director Rahn's letter is background on the Complete Streets issue.

Director Rahn's letter is also available as a PDF file.

April 28,2008
Mr. Brent Hugh
Missouri Bicycle Federation, Inc.
5916 Arlington Avenue
Raytown, MO 64133

Dear Mr. Hugh:

This letter is to clarify MoDOT's position on the recent legislative action regarding House Bill 2206. There was no promise to Representative Mike Sutherland for implementation of all items in House Bill 2206. MoDOT already has policies in place providing for the consideration of bicycle and pedestrian facilities on each project. Much of this bill was redundant to existing MoDOT policy. In addition, the bill dealt with areas more appropriate as policy of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission than state statute. MoDOT has committed to review these policies and implement any changes we believe are necessary to better serve Missouri.

Mandatory training was a part of the original version of the bill. MoDOT Design and Construction staffing all ten districts have recently been trained on non-motoized transportation issues. More detailed training is under development and will include project scoping, engineering policy, design guidance and construction practices and will also be presented in all districts.

A staffing change has been made to provide for better implementation'of the department's policies. The position of bike/ped coordinator previously located in the Planning Division has been changed to an engineering position in the Design Division allowing more oversight through the entire Program Delivery process. Project development, design and reviews are handled in this division allowing direct involvement with projects and consistent guidance across the State. It is expected that this change will also provide positive interaction with internal staff and with stakeholders.

With the funding provided by Amendment 3 in 2004, it was MoDOT's responsibility to use those funds in the most effective manner possible. In the last four years the Smoother, Safer, Sooner program has brought smooth pavement, shoulder treatments and new striping to 80% of the highway system users and reduced fatalities to less than 1000 in 2007. The Better Roads, Brighter Future program is nearing completion and will upgrade major roads to a level of 85% in "good" condition. The Safe and Sound program will repair or replace 800 bridges in "poor" condition preventing the closure of some bridges and ensuring the continued accessibility of many rural areas of the State.

These projects have benefited all users, both motorists and bicyclists alike, by improving travelways and increasing safety. It is important that MoDOT remains responsible and accountable for the use of taxpayer funding and that MoDOT continues to make decisions on how those funds are used to best provide for all aspects of the state's transportation systems.

MoDOT appreciates the interest of the Missouri Bike Federation and encourages their continued input. Questions and concerns maybe directed to Melissa Anderson, Non-motorized Transportation Engineer, at 573-526-2921or Melissa.Anderson@modot.mo.gov.

Sincerely,

Pete K. Rahn
Director

cc: Representative Mike Sutherland
Jay Wunderlich-gr
Melissa Anderson-de

Background on HB 2206, the Complete Streets Bill
This year, Representative Mike Sutherland introduced a "Complete Streets" bill, HB 2206, in the Missouri General Assembly. A statewide Complete Streets policy is one important element in MoBikeFed's Vision of Active Transportation in Missouri.

The impetus to pursue a Complete Streets policy in Missouri came from Missouri’s Trailmap for Nonmotorized Transportation, which was developed by the MoDOT Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC):

BPAC strives to integrate bike/ped travel modes in the overall transportation system – routine accommodation - by encouraging bike/ped friendly policies and standards for transportation projects. (p. 4-5)

Incorporate routine accommodation of bicyclists and pedestrians in all new construction, rehabilitation or reconstruction projects on roads and bridges that include use of the state’s Practical Design Policy and Federal Highway Administration’s design guidance. (p. 10)

BPAC, which was created by the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission, has not met since November 2006. However, many committee members have continued to pursue the committee's goals and objectives.

When Rep. Sutherland introduced the bill early in the 2008 legislative session, MoDOT representatives had a variety of objections to the proposal.


Representative Mike Sutherland

After negotiating with MoDOT, a weakened but still helpful version of the Complete Streets bill moved through the Missouri House, passing by a vote of 139-9.

At the hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee, Eric Curtit of MoDOT appeared and testified against the bill. Among other things, Curtit testified that MoDOT's current policies are to provide bicycling and walking facilities where necessary, making the legislation unnecessary.

MoDOT's opposition stopped further progress of the bill for this year. Note however that version of the bill have been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate recently.

MoDOT Director Pete Rahn talked with Rep. Sutherland that afternoon, indicating that MoDOT would take a look at its current policies for bicycling and walking and make any changes MoDOT feels are needed. Rep. Sutherland indicated that he would follow that process closely and if the changes he feels are needed are not made, then the Complete Streets legislation can be re-introduced at any time.

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