Major changes coming: MoDOT Director Dave Nichols to retire in May

MoDOT Director David Nichols became director two years ago in the midst of the effort to find a new funding source for the organization.  Director Nichols led the organization through the effort to create the funding proposal that was placed before voters as Amendment 7 last August, and many important organizational changes leading up to that, including:

MoDOT Director Dave Nichols has led the organization through a difficult period
MoDOT Director Dave Nichols has led the organization through a difficult period

Today, MoDOT announced that Director Nichols will be retiring in May:

This spring, the Missouri Department of Transportation will see a change in leadership when MoDOT Director Dave Nichols retires on May 1.

Nichols announced his plans for retirement on Feb. 5, and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission will now begin the process to replace him.

"The commission is grateful for Dave's long career of dedicated, results-oriented service to MoDOT," said Commission Chair Stephen Miller. "He exemplifies exactly what it means to be a public servant, having spent the last 30 years of his life doing great work for the citizens of Missouri."

Throughout his career, Nichols watched the department evolve into a nationally-respected leader among state transportation departments.

"MoDOT is filled with talented and dedicated employees, and it has been a great privilege to work with them," said Nichols. "I have watched this team rise to whatever challenge they've faced time and time again, and I know they will continue to lead and innovate."

Nichols became director of MoDOT in April 2013, after having served as chief engineer for two years. In his 30-year span at the department, he has held a variety of leadership roles, including the department's first director of program delivery, a position he held for 11 years. He also served as district engineer for the department's Northwest District, headquartered in St. Joseph, and worked in MoDOT's Kansas City District.

What's next for Missouri?

Does the resignation of Nichols signal a new direction for MoDOT?  Will MoDOT continue in the direction of working to embrace a comprehensive approach to transportation that includes support for transit, bicycling, walking, and other modes alongside roads and highways?  Or will it retrench to become a highway-only organization?

MoDOT's recently released Missouri 325 Plan certainly points the agency in the direction of roads and highways only--thought it is hard to disagree with MoDOT's logic, that they cannot take anything new onto their system at a time when their actual funding levels are enough to allow regular, routine maintenance on less than a quarter of the miles in their system.

Will the new MoDOT leader be able to take the agency and the state of Missouri beyond the current crisis and towards a more modern, economical, and comprehensive approach to our statewide transportation needs?

Or will MoDOT's new leadership take it back towards a more highway-centric approach, as many currently in leadership in Jefferson City seem to want?

Only time will tell.  The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation and our allies across the state will be monitoring this situation closely and supporting a modern, comprehensive approach to MoDOT's statewide transportation situation that will benefit all Missouri citizens.