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Another sign of wasted funds

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I was driving to Cape recently and between the bumps and swerving to avoid the potholes, I noticed some new milemarker signs posted along the interstate. Every two-tenths of a mile to be exact.

Once again the higher-ups at the Missouri Department of Transportation are completely wasting our money, and frankly I am getting tired of it. Anyone who drives on Missouri roads know that, well, they suck.

Federal highway statistics rank Missouri 48th for road conditions. I guess that means that the two states below Missouri must have all gravel or brick roads because I have never driven in a state with worse roads than ours.

For years the higher-ups at MoDOT have claimed they are underfunded, which is why they said they couldn't fix our deteriorating roads. So in 2004, we, as voters, approved an amendment that gave revenues from the motor vehicle fuel tax to go toward our roads. And now they use part of it to put up road signs every two-tenths of a mile for a cost of approximately $3.2 million dollars.

First, why every two-tenths of a mile? I know my wife says I have ADD but even I am not going to forget where I am in two-tenths of a mile. But I guess putting the signs a half-mile apart wouldn't be wasting enough money. But exactly how do these milemarkers actually improve our roads, you ask?

According to MoDOT the primary purpose of the new milemarkers is to increase safety on our roads. Well, here is a question: Since when do milemarkers make the roads safer? As a matter of fact, these signs are designed to help you better know your location after an accident, not keeping an accident from happening. In my mind, that is not safety.

I think the markers could actually be more dangerous anyway. First there are more signs to attract your attention, which in turn draws your attention away from the road which in turn can cause more accidents. I know it sounds a little far fetched, but I have found myself looking at the signs and not paying attention and I am not the only one this has happened to.

MoDOT officials also say the new milemarkers will save $200,000 a year by replacing the white delineators that are placed every tenth of a mile. Well, that's great. They can use that $200,000 to replace all the signs that are stolen by teenagers or that are bent or damaged by teenagers throwing bottles or other items at them from their speeding cars. Let's face it. The more signs there are, the more tempting it becomes.

But never fear because I come with a solution, no matter how far-fetched it seems. Since MoDOT is so interested in safety, why don't they actually try to fix our terrible roads to make them better to drive on instead of blowing over $3 million on milemarkers. Based on accident rates there are 5,700 unsafe intersections in the Missouri state highway system. How about fixing them?

And I have some other ideas. You know those big cracks across the road?

They aren't supposed to be there. Maybe MoDOT could fix them. You know those big potholes in the middle of our interstates? They aren't supposed to be there either. That makes for bad driving conditions. I don't know about you but I would think bad driving conditions could lead to bad driving which, in turn, which leads to accidents. I know it is a crazy idea but putting money into our roads with the hope of improving them, could actually lead to safer driving. I for one am willing to take that risk. Unfortunately MoDOT isn't.



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