At the monthly meeting of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Wednesday, July 13, in Farmington, area representatives were set to request road improvements for Oregon County.
The meeting was set to begin at 10:30 a.m. and was open to the public and media. Results of that meeting were unavailable at press time.
In an earlier interview, Tom Stehn, former Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) District 9 engineer, said he prepared a draft request for several resurfacing projects in Oregon County.
The most significant request, financially, and per public concern, is a proposed Highway 142 widening project from the Thayer High School to Route EE. A left-turn lane is proposed from the west entrance of the Thayer High School to the Highway 63 intersection.
Two-foot shoulders also are proposed to be added from there to about eight miles east to Route EE.
Initially, Stehn said, the project was planned for two-foot shoulders to Route E near Couch Schools, but funding ran short.
At a Thayer Citizens for Better Government meeting July 1, former State Treasurer Wendell Bailey said the state used to give equal attention to rural and urban roads, although now must funding goes to St. Louis and Kansas City, while rural roads are neglected.
Also at that meeting, Rep. Steve Cookson, R-District 153, who serves on the Transportation Committee, said he will attend the highway commission meeting and ask that the Highway 142 project go through as initially planned.
Cookson, of Fairdealing in Ripley County, was elected to his first term in November 2010, and represents Oregon, Wayne, Butler, Carter and Ripley counties.
Cookson agreed that rural counties often are ignored by state legislators, and even viewed as "a foreign country."
On Friday, July 8, Oregon County Presiding Commissioner Patrick Ledgerwood said, "Starting today, we get our orders from Sikeston," referring to MoDOT's recent downsizing effort.
In June, MoDOT began implementing its Bolder Five-Year Plan to eliminate offices, including the District 9 office in Willow Springs, now under the direction of the Southeast District in Sikeston, where Stehn serves as assistant district engineer until Sept. 1 when he takes over as West Plains city administrator.
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission is a six-member bipartisan board that governs the Missouri Department of Transportation. Members are appointed for a six-year term by the governor and are confirmed by the Missouri Senate.
On June 30, Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Democrat Joseph Hunt of St. Louis to the State Highway and Transportation Commission.
Hunt is the general president emeritus of the Ironworkers International and has served as an official in the building and construction trades for more than 40 years, according a press release from the governor's office.
Hunt served as a board member of the Lambert St. Louis International Airport Commission, a member of the National Heavy and Highway Alliance and on the regional committee of the National Infrastructure Alliance.
Nixon appointed Hunt to a term ending March 1, 2017.
Public presentations scheduled for the July 13 commission meeting included Southeast Missouri Transportation Service-Raymond Skaggs, President of Southeast Missouri Transportation Service, and the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission-Chauncy Buchheit, Executive Director of SEMO RPC.
A link to the meeting agenda is available at: http://www.modot.org/about/commission/me....
If approved, the Highway 142 project will begin in 2012.