The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) celebrated its new project office Tuesday morning with an open house.
The office located southeast of St. James on Highway 8 replaces a 30-year-old structure in Rolla that was too small.
"In Rolla we had a construction office which was not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and had some maintenance issues," said Preston Kramer, who serves as MoDOT's chief engineer for the department's Meramec region.
In 2011 MoDOT underwent a major restructuring and downsizing. According to Kramer the state went from 10 districts down to seven and 130 facilities were consolidated. As well, the workforce was reduced by 20 percent.
"As part of the consolidation our Rolla office, which used to be just a construction office, it became an office space that was housing way too may people. We were busting at the seams," explained Kramer.
He added that when the cost of making the Rolla facility ADA-compliant was looked at, it was clear that it would be very cost prohibitive. A search for a better facility was undertaken and somebody in the district remembered that the St. James facility was vacant.
"We looked into what it would take to make this space a functional office space for years to come. The decision to go ahead for this came from Jefferson City and it was the right decision to make," Kramer said.
In February, 20 permanent staff members moved in. There are also three Missouri University of Science and Technology students who are interning there this summer.
Kramer said he couldn't be more happy.
"We are excited to be a part of the St. James community and a partner in the Meramec region."