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New MODOT Head Supports Amendment Three

August 26, 2004
By: Ben Welsh
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's new transportation director told reporters Thursday he has no immediate solutions to the state's highway problems.

The former head of New Mexico's Transportation Department was unveiled as the Missouri Department of Transportation's new director Thursday.

Rahn takes over a department criticized for failing to win public support to fund the repair and expansion of the state's highway system.

"My efforts will be to assure the citizens of Missouri that they get a dollar of value for every dollar that's spent," Rahn said.

However, he said he has yet to develop proposals for addressing the issues facing Missouri's roads and highways, including the best way to revitalize I-70.

Rahn did express support for the Amendment 3 initiative on the November ballot that would end the diversion of highway funds, such as the gasoline tax, to pay for non-highway related expenses.

"The best opportunity for the transportation system to improve is to stop the diversion of taxes that people think are going to roads but are not," Rahn said.

Amendment 3 was placed on the November ballot by an initiative petition.

"It's a major issue that is going to be the voters decision," Rahn said. "That's for the voters."

Rahn, 49, headed New Mexico's State and Highway Transportation Department from 1995 to 2002. He also has previous experience as an executive in the corporate world. Before becoming MoDOT's director, a $130,008 a year post, Rahn was a vice president at Contech Construction Products, Inc., a supplier for designers and engineers in Middletown, OH.

MoDOT has 6,200 employees and a $1.8 billion dollar budget. An interim director has led the department since former director Henry Hungerbeeler's resignation earlier this year. Rahn will officially take the reins on Sept. 15.

"I think that with Pete coming on board this is just another step in a new day dawning at MoDOT," said Bill McKenna, chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, which selected Rahn over two other finalists by a 6-0 vote.

"The guy knows about leadership," said James B. Anderson, another board commissioner, "and he walks that talk."