MODOT'S State Rail Plan to Improve Transportation
JEFFERSON CITY - MoDOT gathered public opinions all across Missouri for the past couple weeks to see what the public thinks of its new State Rail Plan. The plan focuses on the next twenty years that will help bolster ridership and freight trains in Missouri. By doing that, MoDOT plans to invest state funds to help private sectors of the railroad industry to help the state's economy.
Michelle Teel, a MoDOT Multimodal Operations Director, says MoDOT is helping the industry because rail use increases transportation in other areas. Perhaps the most important reason MoDOT is doing this is because of jobs.
"It's all about jobs," she said. "If there's a construction project to build a new bridge, that's going to help the economy."
Members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol say a higher use on the railroads will help clear the state's roadways. Patrolman Ethan Ahern says safety is his biggest concern when he's on patrol. He said he is in favor of this project because it will get 18 wheelers off the road. The trucks are known for the damage it causes the state's highways.
"If MoDOT is able to help eliminate that, then I don't see any reason why the patrol wouldn't be behind the plan," he said.
Not everyone is happy about MoDOT's State Rail Plan. Miner Roger Fischer said he thinks the current plan focuses too much on now and not enough into the future.
"There are rail lines not being used that lead to raw materials in Missouri," he said.
Fischer would like to see the state take over a number of unused short rail lines and put them in the hands of a transit authority that could oversee its use. Right now MoDOT doesn't have any plans to add or re-open rail lines in the state. The department plans to release a final draft of the plan by May 2012.
For more information on the plan, visit www.morail.org
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