Updated at 1:56 p.m. with information on toll roads in New Hampshire, McKenna’s start date.
The new director of the cash-strapped Missouri Department of Transportation comes from a state where toll roads bring in a significant amount of money.
Patrick McKenna, deputy commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, is set to take over leading MoDOT on Dec. 7, officials announced Thursday.
Tolls on Interstate 70 have been floated as a way to fund needed construction to the road that spans the state.
“We can’t take any options off the table,” McKenna said at a news conference Thursday of tolling in Missouri.
He said the basis for tolls is that users pay for the use of the road, and that toll roads will be discussed as MoDOT moves forward.
Toll roads generate about $120 million a year in New Hampshire, he said.
“It’s something that’s not necessarily popular,” McKenna said. “People don’t necessarily want to increase their daily costs, and that’s a legitimate concern.”
McKenna will take over leading MoDOT as it braces for lean years following the death of a gasoline tax hike in the Legislature and rejection by voters of a sales tax increase that would have provided about $5.4 billion over 10 years for roads and bridges as well as ports, railways and public transit.
No MoDOT expansion projects, such as new lanes, interchanges or bridges, are planned over the next five years. That represents a first in the department’s history, the result of a bleak funding outlook.
The state agency has reduced its workforce by 20 percent, disposed of more than 750 pieces of equipment and sold 124 facilities since 2011 for savings of more than $605 million.
McKenna’s salary was not immediately available.
His duties in New Hampshire included serving as the agency’s chief financial, operating and legislative officer, according to MoDOT.
“He is not an engineer, but he is a creative thinker and leader,” said Steve Miller, the highway commission’s chairman, who cited McKenna’s experience in government, nonprofit organizations and business.
McKenna is set to replace Roberta Broeker, who became interim director in May following the retirement of Dave Nichols, who had held the position since April 2013.
Broeker will return to her previous position as MoDOT’s chief financial officer, MoDOT said.
Nichols’ retirement announcement came just a day after the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approved a tight spending plan focused on maintaining 8,000 miles of primary roads such as interstates, with the remaining 26,000 miles of roads seeing limited routine maintenance. Snow will be plowed, potholes will be filled and traffic signals will be kept running, but little else will be done.
Nichols has since been hired as the transportation program director for the Parsons Corp., an engineering firm.