Missouri Department of Transportation chief engineer Dave Nichols will take the reins as director on an interim basis replacing Kevin Keith who is taking a medical leave of absence.

Keith is taking a leave effective immediately and will retire on July 1, according to a press release that did not disclose the reason behind the medical leave. Nichols will serve in the role for a minimum of one year. Nichols has worked at MoDOT for nearly 30 years in a variety of leadership positions.

“The commission has accepted Kevin’s resignation and we are grateful for his long career of dedicated, results-oriented service to MoDOT and the citizens of Missouri,” said Missouri Highways and Transportation Commissioner Joe Carmichael in a statement. “We are committed to a seamless leadership transition for the benefit of our employees, our customers, and our stakeholders.”

Keith also has previously served as chief engineer before he took over as director in 2010. Keith oversaw a transformation of the department during which the agency exhausted its bonding capacity and dramatically cut staff to preserve funds for projects. Lawmakers are considering a proposal to raise the state’s sales tax by 1 cent to raise $8 billion over the next decade. If approved by the legislature, the measure would go to voters.

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