(From the city of Joplin)
The City of Joplin has recently received word from Becky Baltz, District Engineer of the current Joplin District of Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) that the Missouri Highway Commission voted to reduce the number of district offices from ten to seven. This action eliminates the Joplin district, and moves the district office to Springfield.
A request for an extension in making this decision was sent by various audiences from multiple agencies. The delay was to be utilized for planning, as the City had convened a community group to review possibilities and develop various options for MoDOT’s consideration, in order for them to make a fully-informed decision considering all possibilities. Planning began initially but was abruptly stopped by the May 22nd tornado disaster.
One of the first requests was signed by legislators from the State Senate and House of Representatives. Additional requests came from the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. Most recently, the City sent a letter with this 90-day extension request signed by Public Works Director David Hertzberg and just yesterday, during this disaster recovery, the Mayor and City Manager sent another letter for the 90-day extension request. The City was unable to develop a plan for MoDOT to consider because of the recovery effort.
“This is absolutely inexcusable and shows incredible insensitivity to the tragedy that has befallen the Joplin community,” said Mark Rohr, City Manager. “We had contacted them numerous times asking them for an extension of this process. Our most recent effort was during the disaster that was caused by the May 22nd tornado, yet they ignored our appeal.”