In his annual State of Transportation Address Feb. 7, Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn called for dedicated truck lanes on Interstates 70 and 44.
"By 2012, just five years from today, there will be nearly 800,000 more large trucks annually on I-44 and greater than 700,000 more large trucks on I-70," Rahn told legislators. "This vital commercial traffic will only increase beyond 2012 and will be even higher in urban areas. We cannot ignore this growing traffic and I am convinced that we must include dedicated truck lanes as part of our solution to separate semis from family sedans on our two most critical roadways."
Rahn also highlighted recent and planned improvements to the state's surface transportation system including the just-completed Smooth Roads Initiative, which improved Missouri's 2,200 most heavily traveled highway miles. "Our busiest roads are smoother," he said. "Seventy-four percent of Missouri's major highways are now in good condition and drivers are feeling the difference.
"This is progress, but not victory," he said. "Just last month, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approved the Better Roads, Brighter Future Program."
Better Roads, Brighter Future aims to rehabilitate 5,600 miles of the state's busiest highways by 2012.
Rahn also touted MoDOT's Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Plan, which will improve more than 800 bridges by 2012. "Each of these bridges will be replaced or repaired, and the successful bidder will be required to keep them in good condition for at least 25 years," he said. "If their solutions don't perform, we don't pay. That is the ultimate protection of Missouri taxpayers for an extreme makeover of Missouri's bridges."
He also called on legislators to pass a primary safety belt law.
"It is time to act," Rahn said. "We spend billions of dollars making our highways safer. Without spending a dime, we could save 90 lives each year. It is imperative that we make 2007 the year we pass a primary safety belt law and save those 90 lives."
Current law allows safety belt ticketing only if first pulled over for another offense. Federal estimates show that passing a tougher law would save 90 lives and prevent more than 1,000 disabling injuries annually statewide.