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Mixed reactions to MoDOT downsizing decision

(Via Flickr/KOMUnews, Manu Bhandari)

Updated 6:20 am Friday to correct layoff number.

Wednesday’s vote by state highway commissioners to downsize the Missouri Department of Transportation(MoDOT) is meeting with criticism from the state’s leading agricultural lobby.

Missouri Farm Bureauofficials say the 30-day notice given to the public about the plan was too short to allow for a full examination and for citizen comments.

Spokesman Estil Fretwell adds that the decision to eliminate more than 1,200 agency jobs, close more than 130 facilities and sell off 740 pieces of equipment could hurt rural areas. Some of the job reductions will be through layoffs, though department officials don't know how many.

"When you close this number of facilities, when you make this kind of staff reductions, it’s going to change how services are delivered," Fretwell said.  "Rural Missouri is very dependent upon MoDOT in delivery of services, maintenance of roads, snow removal, things of that nature. "

But State Senator Mike Kehoe(R, Jefferson City) defends the move.

"MoDOT knows what its revenue stream is," Kehoe said.  "For several years, they’ve been telling people that there’s going to come a time and day where we’re not going be able to afford the size of organization we have, and that day has come."

Kehoe is also the former Chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.