Franklin County Highway Administrator Ron Williams says the lack of communication between the county and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is ridiculous.
His department is in the process of replacing a bridge over Fiddle Creek near Labadie and has submitted all of the plans for the project, but has not received any replies at all from the state agency.
The small bridge dates back to the 1950s and the county has already spent thousands of dollars on engineering for its replacement.
Williams voiced his frustrations to members of the Franklin County Transportation Committee at its meeting last week and he wasn’t alone.
In his opinion, these miscommunications, or lack thereof, are hindering transportation project completions and adding costs.
“This is a small bridge project,” Williams said. “There are no environmental issues, we’ve taken care of all of the permits.”
Williams said he submitted the bridge project plans to MoDOT on Sept. 18, and has not heard a word in reply.
“We’re going on four months and I have yet to receive any comments on a little bridge project,” he said. “We’re trying to get things done for our constituents.”
If they would have received a timely response, the county was hoping to bid the project this winter and begin construction.
“Now, we’ll be lucky to bid by the spring and prices are going up,” Williams said. “They (MoDOT) are not giving us any info and we are not getting stuff done. It’s bad.”
Williams added he is so upset about the no communication he was tempted to confront MoDOT officials when the Missouri Highway Commission met in Washington on Dec. 5, not long after the new Highway 47 bridge opened.
“If we don’t hear something soon, I’m going to drive to Jefferson City myself,” Williams said. “This is silly.”
Last September, Williams explained he has experienced difficulty in getting answers from MoDOT on several occasions and when policy changes are made, local agencies applying to the state are not notified.
He added he has a hard time getting straight answers when he asks questions and everyone seems to have to ask someone else higher up the chain.
“I worked in Illinois for eight years and IDOT people always said we have to get an answer from Springfield (Ill.),” Williams said. “It’s starting to get that bad in Jefferson City.”
Judy Wagner, a MoDOT area engineer, who attends the meetings, told the committee they needed to request a meeting with a district engineer to voice their concerns.
She added turnover and low staffing at MoDOT may be a reason for the lack of communication and projects not being reviewed on a more timely basis.
The committee voted unanimously to ask Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker to submit a letter to MoDOT requesting a meeting and highlighting the county’s frustrations.