JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Patrick K. McKenna has been named the new director of the Missouri Department of Transportation by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The announcement was made Thursday at a press conference following the commission’s monthly meeting.
“After a nationwide search, the commission knew Mr. McKenna had the vision and experience to lead the department to a new level of success and achievement,” said Stephen R. Miller, chairman of the MHTC. McKenna previously served as the deputy commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.
The outsider will take on a department that is currently striving to meet budget shortfalls and is attempting to work with the legislature to find a solution to lagging transportation maintenance.
“I am looking forward to working with the new director of MoDOT,” Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety Committee Chairman Senator Doug Libla said. “Good and safe highways are so important to our state. We have many challenges looming that seriously hamper our economic expansion and development – long term funding plan being the most important. Our citizens and job providers need and deserve a reliable 21st Century transportation system.”
“I’d like to welcome McKenna to Missouri,” said House Transportation Committee Chairman Glen Kolkmeyer, R-Wellington. “I also look forward to working with him on finding a solution to MODOT’s funding problems.”
Seventy percent of every dollar received by MoDOT comes from fuel taxes. Overall, the department is funded by a mix of state and federal funds.
“I am excited and honored to take on the director’s position at MoDOT,” said McKenna. “Missouri faces a lot of transportation challenges, but MoDOT’s employees have proven time and again they can handle it. The department’s nationwide reputation for innovation is proof of that.”
In his role as deputy commissioner in New Hampshire, McKenna served as the chief financial, operating and legislative officer for the organization. He has also worked in leadership positions in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Mr. McKenna also worked for several years as the sole proprietor of a real estate holdings company.
“Patrick McKenna is an experienced professional who will bring strong leadership and vision to this vital post,” Gov. Jay Nixon said. “Improving the safety and reliability of Missouri’s roads and bridges continues to be a top priority of my administration. I look forward to working with members of the General Assembly in the upcoming session to strengthen our roads and bridges and create good jobs for Missouri families.”
Missouri has the seventh largest transportation system in the nation with 33,702 miles of state highways. Missouri has 53 major river crossings – more than any other state – and over 10,000 bridges in total on the state system that average 46 years of age. Several are closed, and 2,200 of them are deficient. Bridge repairs and replacement would cost over $5 billion.
McKenna will replace Interim Director Roberta Broeker, who will return to her previous position as MoDOT’s chief financial officer.
McKenna is not of relation to Director of Labor Ryan McKenna, former state Representative T.J. McKenna or former Senate Pro Tem Bill McKenna.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.