SIKESTON - If you are planning any sort of drive across Missouri this year, you may want to pick up one of the Missouri Department of Transportation's new maps - even if you already know how to get there.
In addition to the statewide highway map published every other year, MoDOT recently made available a new companion piece: "A Guide to Major Missouri Highway Construction in 2001."
"This is the first time we've done this," said Angie Wilson, district public affairs manager for MoDOT.
Although several districts have released construction maps of local projects, MoDOT officials wished to provide residents and visitors alike with a single map to help plan driving trips across Missouri.
Wilson said MoDOT plans to release major construction location maps annually. "We feel that it helps with the safety of our employees," she said, "and is a convenience for the traveling public, too."
The map shows the location of 97 major construction projects that will affect traffic the most; the projects are listed alphabetically by county. It also provides brief project descriptions and estimated completion dates.
Wilson explained the construction season for MoDOT runs from spring to fall, depending on the weather. "Down here we start a bit earlier and work a bit later than other places in the state," she added.
"There are 684 active construction and maintenance projects this year throughout the state," said Wilson. "We will have 56 in our district."
Wilson said a map of this district's projects is at the printer and should be available within the next couple of weeks.
The 2001-2002 Official Highway Map is a guide to more than 32,000 miles of roads on the state highway system and includes city inset maps, emergency telephone numbers and locations of Missouri State Highway Patrol offices.
State parks, rest areas, tourist information centers, historical sites, hospitals and other useful information also are marked for travelers in addition to towns, cities and roadways.
"Missouri's a great state, and this map will help people discover it," said Henry Hungerbeeler, MoDOT's director. "We hope travelers find it useful."
Hungerbeeler noted Missouri has the nation's seventh largest state highway system.
According to Wilson, Brent Fischer, MoDOT mapping supervisor in Jefferson City, said there are really no major changes from the last highway map, although drivers can expect changes in the appearance of the next edition.
MoDOT officials said 4.5 million copies of the 2001-2002 highway map will be printed.
The highway map is, as always, free. "There's never been a charge," said Wilson. The Show Me Progress Guide to Major Missouri Highway Construction in 2001 is also provided at no cost.
To get a copy of the highway map and construction guide, call MoDOT's customer service center toll free at 1-888-ASK-MODOT, visit their website at www.modot.state.mo.us or visit the district office.