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MoDOT's Swedeborg shed sought for western district county road crews
MoDOT's Swedeborg shed sought for western district county road crews

Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall and Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink discuss MoDOT's Swedeborg road shed with MoDOT South-Central District Engineer Tom Stehn.
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (April 16, 2009) — A closed road shed owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation in Swedeborg could become the western district shed for Pulaski County if state workers are allowed to use the bathrooms while working on area roads.

During a visit by Tom Stehn, the district engineer for MoDOT’s south-central district, Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall noted that despite the state’s financial problems, MoDOT is still maintaining the road shed as a bathroom for its employees. Ransdall said if the state agreed to transfer the road shed to Pulaski County at a reasonable price, that would likely save the state from having to do extensive environmental cleanup while still allowing state workers to use the county bathrooms and store materials on the property.

“All I’m going to say is it is obvious you were a politician at one time,” Stehn said.

Ransdall had been a member of the Missouri State House of Representatives for many years before being term-limited out of office in 2004 and running for the presiding commissioner post in 2006.

Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink said providing bathroom breaks to state workers wouldn’t be a problem.

“We know all pretty much everybody who works for the state and they are all friends,” Zweerink said. “They can use the bathroom anytime they want.”

Stehn said MoDOT has been closing road sheds as part of a department-wide consolidation process, but said retaining some land in the Swedeborg area would be helpful to put road salt, road sand, and other material used by road workers.

“We don’t need the building, but it is a good location for storing salt. It doesn’t really serve the public well for us to be running back to St. Robert all the time to get salt,” Stehn said.

The MoDOT property has been considered for residential development, but county commissioners have noted that well water in the area has quality problems that would require tying into a rural water supplier.

“If you’re going to continue to keep salt in there, how would anyone build houses on it?” Zweerink asked.

That’s a problem, Stehn acknowledged, since the residential developers would have to buy all of the property and MoDOT personnel would have to clean the property up prior to the purchase.

“You understand what I’m saying? You get what you want, we get what we want, and we’re all better off,” Ransdall said.

Ransdall noted that convincing state officials to allow Pulaski County to buy the Swedeborg road shed without a public bidding process would require concessions by the county and a clear explanation of how turning the shed over to Pulaski County would help the state as well as the county.

“Tom’s got to have something in his report to sell this in Jeff City,” Ransdall said. “The county is willing to pay the electrical expense, the county is willing to give ingress and egress. How could anyone be opposed?”

Zweerink asked Stehn if the county could work out a payment plan with the state.

“That’s negotiable,” Stehn said. “The stipulation has to be you’re using it for county purposes. If you’re not, and if you sell it to a developer for some other purpose, that could be a problem.”

Ransdall said he’d like to avoid those problems entirely, and said a good plan could make both him and Stehn “look like heroes in the press.”

“What I meant is we’re accommodating the state and their maintenance program on the state highways while accommodating the county workers’ needs and better locating them in the western district. It is a win-win situation,” Ransdall said. “I think it is a good opportunity for the county, and if the state is so inclined to negotiate with us, we will do our best.”

Stehn said MoDOT is financially challenged.

“Right now we’re stretching every dollar we can,” Stehn said.

Ransdall said he understands that.

“Like everybody else, we want our share, plus a little bit more. We’ll take all we can get,” Ransdall said.

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