ALERT: MoDOT needs your input! Public meetings Nov-Dec 2021 across MO for High Priority Unfunded Needs list

Over the past several months, MoDOT has been working with its planning partners - Regional Planning Commission and Metropolitan Planning Organizations in every part of Missouri - to develop a "High Priority Unfunded Transportation Needs" list. Now they are releasing that project list to the public and asking for your input.

MoDOT is asking YOU what your priorities for Missouri transportation are.
MoDOT is asking YOU what your priorities for Missouri transportation are. Would you like to see better, safer, more connected walking, bicycling, or public transit in your area? If so, now is the time to ask for what you need.

This High Priority Project List will guide priorities as greatly expanded federal transportation funding, along with slightly expanded state funding, comes to Missouri over the next several months and next few years.

In fact, this project will most likely guide in the prioritization and spending of as much as $10 billion in new spending in Missouri over the next 5-10 years.

With the recent passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the multi-year federal transportation reauthorization a large portion of that funding has already started to come our way.

So it is vitally important that bicycle, pedestrian, and public transportation priorities are included on this list and prioritized well.

Now is your chance to weigh in - and really make a difference.

Feedback from people who walk, bicycle, and use public transit really is needed right now

You - the people who walk, run, hike, and bicycle the most in your area - know best where the needs are. You know what pieces are missing from our bicycle and pedestrian transportation system, and what pieces need to be updated or improved better than any engineer,  planner, or elected official.

For that reason, if you can attend an upcoming public meeting in your area or offer feedback online, you have the chance to make a real difference.

We know from talking with MoDOT's planning partners during this process that many areas of the state have had difficulty generating enough high quality bicycle and pedestrian projects for their regional priority lists.

YOU probably know better than MoDOT engineers do what is needed to make bicycling and walking safe and accessible in your neighborhood. Sp please - share your knowledge.

Below find:

  • The meeting schedule covering all MoDOT Districts in Missouri
  • Information about the online public meeting
  • How making an online response
  • Suggested points to make when you write MoDOT
  • MoDOT's invitation for public comment

Online Public Meeting & Materials

MoDOT has put the materials for its High Priority Unfunded Needs online, including:

In-Person Meetings Across Missouri

If you can attend a public meeting in person, it is very helpful. Just asking the staff in attendance about the bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects included and not included for your area, what the criteria were, and why certain projects were included or not included, is very helpful.

The meeting list below represents the MoDOT web site as of 11 November 2021. Please check the MoDOT web page for any updates.

 

DISTRICT LOCATION MEETING DATE/TIME  
Southwest District

Joplin Library - Conference Room 1
1901 E 20th St
Joplin, MO 64804

Tuesday, November 16
9:30 - 11:30 AM
 
Southwest District

Library Center - Community Room B
4653 S Campbell Ave
Springfield, MO 65810

Tuesday, November 16
1-3PM

 
Southeast District

West Plains Civic Center

110 St. Louis St
West Plains, MO 65775

Thursday, November 18
3-5PM
 
Northeast District Audrain County Courthouse
101 N. Jefferson St.
Mexico, MO 65265
 
Monday, November 29
4-6PM
 
Central District

Jefferson City High School Cafeteria
609 Union St
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Wednesday, December 1
4:30-6:30PM
 
Southeast District Osage Centre
1625 N Kingshighway
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
Thursday, December 2
3-5PM
 
Northwest District

Cameron Community Center
915 N. Ashland Drive
Cameron, MO 64429

Monday, December 6
4-6PM
 
Kansas City District Mid-America Regional Council
600 Broadway Blvd Ste 200
Kansas City, MO 64105
Tuesday, December 7
4-6PM
 
St. Louis District  Forest Park Visitor Center
5595 Grand Dr
St. Louis, MO 63112
Wednesday, December 8
4-6PM
 
Kansas City District (Rural)

Warrensburg Municipal Court
200 S. Holden St.
Warrensburg, MO 64093

Thursday, December 9
4-6PM

 

 

 

Suggested points to make in your message to MoDOT

Public comments are due December 22nd, 2021. Comments can be made at a MoDOT public meeting or online.

MoDOT is deciding the funding priorities for a billion dollars of multimodal
MoDOT is deciding the funding priorities for a billion dollars of multimodal funding over the next 5-10 years. (Note that multimodal funding includes freight and passenger rail, ports, airports, and public transit in addition to bicycling and walking - so one thing we need to keep an eye on is whether or not walking and bicycling and getting their fair share of the funding pie.)

Suggested points for your message are listed below.

You don't need to discuss every point on the list.  Discuss one or two of them that resonate with you.

General comments

  • Briefly tell who you are, where you live, and the reasons you bicycle, walk, use public transit, and so on.
    • Keep it brief. A sentence or two is plenty. But it does help planners to know that you bicycle to work, take transit to school, and so on - or that you would do so but for the lack of infrastructure.
       
  • You strongly support the need for better funding and higher priority for bicycle, pedestrian, and public transit projects.  You appreciate the priority multimodal projects have received in this project (roughly $1.0 billion of $5.6 billion programmed in the current draft).  This is much needed as Missouri is behind in providing for complete, connected, safe places to walk and bicycle.
     
  • When our pedestrian, bicycle, and transit system is underfunded and incomplete it hurts the public health and our economy.
     
  • However: Because Missouri is so far behind in accommodating complete, connected, and safe routes for people who walk and bicycle to access all needed destinations, and in providing a complete, usable public transit system, it makes sense for MoDOT to prioritize bicycle, pedestrian, and transit even more highly than they currently are.  Missouri - particularly suburban and rural Missouri - has literally decades of ground to make up.
     
  • The list of bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects is distinctly uneven across the state. Some Districts' lists of High Priority pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit projects look well developed and though through.  Other Districts projects lists are very small and clearly not well thought through.
    • People need to walk and bicycle safely, and need public transportation options, in every part of Missouri. 
       
    • The fact that the priority lists are so disparate in various parts of the state tells us that there is a failure of the planning process somewhere along the way.  We need to fix those deficiencies - as well as, simply adding needed projects from those areas to the list.
  • List any specific bicycle, pedestrian, or transit project that you personally would like to see funded in this plan - whether projects you see already on the list, or another project that should be on the list.
  • Take a good look at the project list for your own District, county, and city.  Compare it with other Districts/counties/cities.  Is your area deficient in any way or any area?
    • For example, some Districts list many specific bicycle projects or setasides for implementing citywide/countywide bicycle plans. 
       
    • Other Districts and many counties list practically no bicycle projects at all.
       
    • If you are from a District or county with little bicycle infrastructure, yet find few or no projects are listed that would help address this serious deficiency in the area's transportation system, you must let MoDOT leaders know that this is unacceptable.
       
    • Suggest additional specific projects but also that the imbalance among Districts and counties must be addressed in a systemic way.
  • The majority of funding on the High Priority list is for roads and bridges around the state - mostly focused on MoDOT's "maintain the system" priority,  which mean repairing existing roads and bridges in place rather than expanding them or building new capacity.  Is the many billions of dollars of road and bridge work funded by this list going to provide for safe travel for people who walk and bicycle as far as possible within the project scope?  For example:
    • Many projects add shoulders to existing state highways.  Will these shoulders be wide enough to be safely used for bicycling?
      • The national standard is four foot clear shoulder space beyond the rumble strip; even a three foot clear space is somewhat usable. 
         
      • MoDOT often puts just 1.5 or 2 feet.
         
      • Will MoDOT follow the national standard? Or at least provide for three feet minimum shoulder space when rumble strips are used?
         
      • Many of MoDOT's recent narrow shoulder/rumble strip projects have actually narrowed available space for people who bicycle and pushed bicyclists further out into the lane. If this has affected you or you have stopped riding on certain roads because of this factor, please let MoDOT know.
         
      • If you see shoulder projects listed for your area, ask specifics.  How wide will the shoulder be?  What type of rumble strips will be involved? What are they doing to insure that people who bicycle can operate safely there once the project is complete?
    • The High Priority List includes many bridge replacement and upgrade projects. Many of these will be in place for the next 75 to 100 years.  This is our one chance to do it right. Will these new bridges provide for safe movement for people who bicycle and walk - or will we be constrained by them for the next century?
      • Will all new bridges in populated areas include usable sidewalks?  On both sides of the road?
         
      • Will all new bridges in populated areas include needed bicycle facilties - whether shoulders, bike lanes, or dedicated bike paths as appropriate?
         
      • Will all new bridges in rural areas also include pedestrian and bicycle accommodation as needed and at minimum, shoulders wide enough to bicycle or walk safely?
    • This list includes several interstate freeway projects.  Will these projects include frontage roads with appropriate levels of access for people who walk and bicycle?
       
    • In general, MoDOT needs to sweat the bicycle and pedestrian details on each and every one of their road and bridge projects far more than they currently do. Bare minimum effort is not acceptable.
  • The High Priority List includes a number of statewide priorities - but no statewide bicycle, pedestrian, or public transit priorities.
    • A number of key bicycle and pedestrian priorities can only be accomplished on a statewide basis.  Now is the time to get these important projects done.
       
    • See full list just below.

Specific statewide funding priorities

Over recent years MoBikeFed and many like-thinking groups and individuals around Missouri have repeatedly brought several vitally important statewide priorities to the attention of MoDOT's top leaders.

The response in every case has been "we do not have the funding to do that right now."

Now we have the funding.  Let's get this list of High Priority Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects done now!

  • $10 million funding (or more) for the statewide Rock Island Trail
    The remaining 144-mile segment of Missouri's statewide Rock Island Trail
    The remaining 144-mile segment of Missouri's statewide Rock Island Trail (colored red) is waiting for 0 million to cinch the deal for the corridor and an additional few million to begin construction. The Rock Island Trail project is well within the scope and the budget of the High Priority list.
    • This is an absolute no-brainer.  Missouri State Parks needs a minimum of $10 million to preserve a 144-mile nonmotorized transportation corridor impacting dozens of currently underserved communities and counties, and the state as a whole. 
       
    • Given the size, scope, and funding level of other projects on this funding list, $10 million to preserve the 110 miles of Rock Island corridor, or even $20, $30, $50, or $70 million funding towards this major, high priority project is feasible.
       
    • $70 million is approximately the amount required to fund the entire 110-mile Rock Island Trail project, and a project of this size fits easily among the other listed projects of similar or much greater scope, size, and cost.
       
    • This one project is as high, or higher, in priority than any listed bicycle/pedestrian project in the plan. But it can only be accomplished as a statewide level. No individual region is going to list the project because they only have a piece of it - and no way to make their piece a reality unless all the other pieces are funded as well.
       
  • Hire a full-time statewide bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, solely dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian policy, planning, issues, and projects
    • MoDOT's bicycle pedestrian coordinator position is currently in transition, so now is a good time to make positive changes.
       
    • This full-time, fully dedicated statewide bicycle/pedestrian coordinator position is in addition to the part-time technical specialist positions that are currently spending a few hours a week on bike/ped projects.
       
    • It is time to recognize that the ways MoDOT has dealt with this position in the recent past have been insufficient:
      • MoDOT assigned one person as bike/ped coordinator but that position was spending many hours on issues complete unrelated to bicycle and pedestrian projects, planning, or policy.  MoDOT was allowing the coordinator the bare minimum federally required hours - or most likely, fewer - on the bicycle/pedestrian coordinator role. This did not allow the coordinator enough time to perform the role and fully run the program.
         
      • More recently, MoDOT has split the role, assigning three different positions to this role.  Each is supposed to used 1/3 time on bicycle/pedestrian issues.  This, however, left a leadership and coordination void in the bicycle/pedestrian program.  We are seeing the results of this now in the very uneven bike/ped project representation on High Priority Project list.
        • A plus side of this approach has been the benefit of specialist help with various aspects of the bike/ped program. This is, clearly, a program that any one individual does not have the full skillset to fully manage and accomplish.
      • In recent years the statewide bike/ped coordinator has not been located at central headquarters, leading to poorer relations with statewide programs and leadership the bike/ped program must coordinate with to be successful - as well as lowered ability to attend relevant statewide meetings, which are usually held centrally.
         
      • MoDOT can take the lessons learned from these experiments and hire one full time statewide bicycle & pedestrian coordinator, preferably located at Central Headquarters, while keeping the specialist positions on board to help a few hours each week in their area of expertise.
         
    • This position is 100% federally funded, so fully and properly using the federal funding allocated for the purpose of this position should be an absolute no-brainer. The fact that this position has not been properly managed and staffed for the past decade is a shame on MoDOT managment - and one it is time to rectify.

      (No shame to the actual workers who have filled the role and who have done their best in this position, but with insufficient resources and a dysfunctional situation at the organizational level stymieing their ability to provide their best work.)
       
  • A statewide bicycle and pedestrian plan
    • Most of our surrounding states and most midwest states now have a statewide bike/ped plan.  But Missouri still does not.
       
    • We see the results when lists like this High Priority Project LIst are compiled.  There is no consistency across Districts or MPO/RPC boundaries; different regions across the state are not working together to create seamless connectivity; many areas are at a loss about how to get started while others are fully advanced in their planning and can offer fully developed lists.
       
    • We are now spending billions of dollars on updating roads and bridges without a full awareness of bicycle and pedestrian needs on those facilities.
      • In many cases, we are spending $1 now that will require $2 later to fix. It is far cheaper to include proper, safe bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on a new bridge than to retrofit an existing bridge.
         
      • But we are designing roads and bridges blind because there is no statewide framework for properly evaluating need and use by people who walk and bicycle.
    • A modern, comprehensive statewide bike/ped plan will cost a few hundred thousand dollars but will positively impact the spending of literally billions over the next 10-20 years
  • A statewide bicycle map, released and updated regularly
    If Kansas can do it - so can we
    If Kansas can do it - so can we
    • This has been a top priority of Missouri's bicycle community for over two decades
       
    • The project costs literally pennies in comparison to other projects on this list
       
    • Again, most surrounding and most Midwest states have published and regularly updated bicycle maps. It's time to get this done in Missouri.
       
  • A statewide TransAmerica Trail/USBR 76 and U.S. Bicycle Route 66 improvement plan and grant program
    • This concept is the same as one of the projects listed in the plan, the "TransAmerica Bike Trail Grant Program for the Southeast District"
       
    • However, the suggested improvement in that concept is to address the entire USBR 76 corridor, and the entire USBR 66 corridor, in a comprehensive way.
       
    • The statewide project could consist of a combination of competitive grant funds and selected projects along the USBR 76 & USBR 66 corridors. Grants would be awarded on the basis of greatest improvement to safety and reduction of conflict among different modes. This will simultaneously address worst safety deficiencies in these statewide bicycle corridors and make steady, statewide progress towards a more safe, uniform, and seamless cross-state experience.
  • Install USBR 66 wayfinding signage on the complete U. S. Bicycle Route 66, state line to state line
    • U.S. Bicycle Route 66, stretching from St Louis to Joplin, is currently Missouri's second most-used bicycle corridor after the Katy Trail
       
    • Installing the officially approved MUTCD wayfinding signage will improve safety for users, who can ride the route with confidence and without getting lost and wandering to a less safe route.
       
    • Seamless, consistent signage will improve the appeal of the corridor as an economic development driver for transportation and tourism for all Route 66 communities and counties across the state.
       
    • U.S. Bicycle Route 76 signage has been installed in the last few years and the signage was very well received by communities and users of the route.
       
    • Because of the welter of jurisdictions and grant funding boundaries along the route, the project is almost impossible to complete via local funding sources.  This is a true statewide project and needs a statewide funding source.
       
    • This entire project state line to state line will cost $300,000 dollars or less - very inexpensive when compared with most projects on the list, and  with a disproportionately large benefit/cost ratio.
       
  • Install US Bicycle Route 51 wayfinding signage across Missouri
    • U.S. Bicycle Route 51 is under development and will be completed during the timeline of this funding plan
       
    • USBR 51 goes north/south across Missouri from Pea Ridge AR to Lamoni IA.
       
    • Like USBR 66, this project will benefit dozens of communities from state line to state line at a comparatively low cost of about $300,000.
      Missouri's U.S. Bicycle Route 66 is second in popularity as a statewide route
      Missouri's U.S. Bicycle Route 66 is second in popularity as a statewide route in Missouri - second to only the Katy/Rock Island Trail system. But it still lacks basic infrastructure like wayfinding signs. The official signs are very inexpensive and make a big difference.
  • Install Butterfield Stage Experience Bicycle Route signage along the route in Missouri
    • The Butterfield Stage Experience route follows the historic 1858 Butterfield Stage route Jefferson City - California - Syracuse - Cole Camp - Warsaw - Wheatland - Bolivar - Springfield - Cassville - Pea Ridge.
       
    • The route is mostly on low traffic county roads and city streets along the historic corridor.
       
    • Because of the remote nature of the route and long distances between towns and services, wayfinding signage is particularly important.
       
    • Like other statewide projects,  this project crosses numerous MoDOT District, jurisdictional, and grant funding boundaries.  It is a true statewide project requiring statewide funding.
       
    • This project will cost around $200,000 - another bargain in comparison with economic impact.
  • Implement all remaining projects statewide in the Sidewalk Assessment program
    • About 10 years ago MoDOT worked with RPCs and small and medium-sized communities around Missouri to perform comprehensive sidewalk assessments of these communities.
       
    • The project has been a huge success, leading to hundreds of improved sidewalks in smaller communities around the state, putting improved and safer pedestrian access exactly where it is needed the most.
      MoDOT's successful Sidewalk Assessment Program
      MoDOT's successful Sidewalk Assessment Program has led to hundreds of key sidewalk improvements and infill in small and medium sized communities around the state. This is a little-known but highly effective program that bears expansion and replication in a wider cross-section of communities.

       
    • The sidewalk assessment program surely has remaining uncompleted project around the state.  Now is the time to address all remaining identified sidewalk projects identified through this process, across the entire state in a systematic way.
  • Expand the statewide sidewalk assessment project to a broader range of communities statewide
    • The Sidewalk Assessment Program has been a major point of success for MoDOT, RPCs, and local communities.  It's time to build on that success for a more comprehensive statewide program.
       
    • The existing program can be expanded to both smaller and larger communities
       
    • The program can also be expanded to communities that lie within MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Organizations - usually medium or larger metro areas) as well as those within RPCs (Rural Planning Commissions - the current target of the assessments).
    • Particularly, far-flung communities with a rural character would benefit from a comprehensive sidewalk assessment program
       
    • Exurban communities would benefit as well.
       
    • An even larger expansion would be to include suburban communities.  This would tremendously expand the  scope of this program, but anyone who has walked in a Missouri suburb knows such a program is sorely needed.
       
    • A yet larger expansion would be to all Missouri communities.  Perhaps larger communities would apply a neighborhood at a time in order to even the playing field and scope.  But this is clearly a program that would benefit all Missouri cities, towns, and villages.
       
    • An annual amount of dedicated funding can be set aside within the High Priority Unfunded Projects budget to address the highest priority sidewalk needs identified.
       
    • A comprehensive Missouri DHSS survey found that 43.6% of Missourians had no sidewalk at all in their neighborhood. The remaining 54.4% of Missouri had at least some sidewalks nearby - though even in those neighborhoods that have some sidewalks, many missing or low-quality pedestrian facilities still need to be addressed.
    • Building and repairing sidewalks impacts all Missourians in a positive way.  But making neighborhoods walkable has a disproportionately positive impact on people who are very young, very old, or disabled in any way. It is a very specific way of addressing underserved, vulnerable, and often-overlooked populations with this new funding source. (And specifically serving underserved population is required by federal law for this type of funding . . . )
       
    • In short, lack of a complete, connected sidewalk system reaching the places Missourians live and need to go is among the greatest infrastructure deficiencies in the state, impacting the most people and having a greater impact on the underserved and vulnerable. Surely repairing this statewide deficiency should have a very high priority on the High Priority Unfunded Projects list.
       
    • Addressing this systemic, long-standing statewide infrastructure deficiency in a comprehensive and systematic way would bring more benefits closer to home for more Missourians than any other project on the list.
       
    • At the same time, the price tag is modest in comparison to other statewide projects of similar scope and impact.

Leave your public comment for MoDOT here.

MoDOT's announcement of the High Priority Unfunded Projects List and request for public comment

Missouri’s transportation system is a tremendous asset to the citizens of Missouri. The system consists of 33,830 miles of roads and 10,399 bridges, both of which rank among the largest for any state in the nation. The Missouri Department of Transportation working with its statewide regional planning partners have identified $1 billion in annual unfunded needs. From the broader unfunded needs, MoDOT has developed a High Priority Unfunded Needs list to guide the development of projects into funded projects as state and federal transportation funds increase.

MoDOT is asking for YOUR input on its priorities for the next 10 years
MoDOT is asking for YOUR input on its priorities for the next 10 years. It takes just 5 minutes to send them a message!

The public is invited to a meeting to discuss the updated draft of the High Priority Unfunded Needs list for transportation [at various locations and times around Missouri].

Since the passage of Missouri’s additional 12.5 cent motor fuel tax increase in July, MoDOT staff have worked with metropolitan planning organizations and regional planning commissions throughout the state to develop a list of high priority unfunded road and bridge needs. The draft project-specific lists include $4.5 billion of road and bridge projects in three tiers. Tier one includes $543 million and includes projects we could accomplish in the time of the current five-year Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) as federal and state funding levels increase. These projects have good estimates. Tier two is worth $2.1 billion and includes projects beyond the current STIP timeframe with broader estimates. Tier three includes $2.2 billion of projects that are also beyond the current STIP timeframe with broader estimates. In addition, MoDOT staff worked with the planning partners to identify $1 billion in multimodal needs.

“Even with additional revenue, transportation needs greatly outweigh funding available, and the challenge is determining the optimal projects to fund that provide the greatest return on investment to taxpayers,” said MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna. “Across every region of the state, feedback from Missourians has consistently prioritized maintaining the existing system as the highest priority. Other priorities include projects that improve safety, spur economic growth, and provide more transportation choices. We value Missourians input in this new draft as we work to prioritize the increasing federal and state transportation revenue.”

The draft document and comment form will be available online through Dec. 22.

 

Thank you for submitting your public comment to MoDOT.  Even just a brief comment indicating that you strongly support funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects helps a lot!

 

When we work together and let our public officials know how we feel and what our priorities are, we really CAN make a difference!

 

 

Work to build citizen support for statewide bicycle, pedestrian, and trail funding, planning, and policy, and keeping people across Missouri informed about opportunity for public comment on important projects is one way MoBikeFed helps build a world-class bicycle and pedestrian network across Missouri, improve safety for all road users, encourage more people to walk and bicycle more often, and build a statewide movement in support of bicycling and walking in Missouri.

And those are exactly the four major goals of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support helps turn our Vision into reality.  Thank you!