CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - As fewer Missourians fuel up and hit the road during the pandemic, the Missouri Department of Transportation’s(MoDOT) taking a hit.
“Our work will suffer a little bit. We understand that," said Patrick McKenna, MoDOT Director.
McKenna said MoDOT is not immune to the COVID-19 pandemic, like other enterprises across the country and state.
“We’re off of our budget plan so far of about 45 million dollars, and that really doesn’t include some of the higher impact months yet,” he said.
According to McKenna, that’s because MoDOT’s down money from motor fuels tax, vehicle sales tax, and license and registration fees as drivers changed their habits over the past few months.
“As the economy has gradually and carefully reopened, we’re seeing that creep up, and that’s really good news," he said.
According to McKenna, here’s what MoDOT is doing to save money:
- MoDOT has delayed discretionary spending on equipment, supplies, and travel.
- The hiring and promotion process has slowed down.
- MoDOT delayed 360 million dollars of construction advertising in the state and 1.7 million dollars of construction advertising in southeast Missouri.
- Senior management is taking a pay reduction.
- Starting the week of June 15, employees have the option to take a 5 percent pay cut or join the Shared Work Unemployment Program. Through that program, employees will reduce their work and pay by 20 percent but be eligible for unemployment benefits and a $600 weekly payment through July 25. This change will last for three months.
“The vast majority of people won’t have a negative financial impact, and it’s because of the benefit of the CARES Act," he said.
According to McKenna, there’s a team dedicated to helping MoDOT employees navigate the next several months and to answer any questions promptly.
“That’s been a little, you know, as you can imagine, unsettling for our team.”
With less hours at work, McKenna said construction inspection will be affected, but drivers should not see much of an impact on current projects, including the center junction project in Cape Girardeau County.
“Most of the construction that you see on the road today are things that we planned last year or had already been contracted. So we already went through the planning, the design, the financial plan,” said McKenna.
There’s one thing that will not take a back seat.
“We really won’t compromise on the safety side of it. That’s where a lot of even on our operation side, the 24/7 coverage, is a big deal to be able to respond to traffic incidents and emergency situations as they come up," said McKenna.
Overall, over these next three months of change, McKenna asks for drivers’ patience and attention on the road.
“If this extends throughout the summer and we’re not able to kind of crank it back up, we’ll be a little concerned about the impact for next year. But we’re working hard to try to deal with that. Again we’ll work through this. We’ll get through it. And we’ll continue to be strong on the other side of it,"