CHICAGO -- The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission tapped Chief Financial Officer Roberta Broeker to serve as interim director of the state Transportation Department as a national search continues for a new leader to replace retiring director Dave Nichols.

Nichols' retirement, announced in February, is effective May 1. Grant Cooper & Associates is assisting the commission in a search for a permanent replacement with an announcement expected in the fall.

Broeker, a certified public accountant, has worked for the state for 35 years including the last 10 as MoDOT's CFO.

"Roberta has the skills and experience to guide the department while we search for a permanent replacement," said commission chairman Stephen Miller in a statement April 1. "With Roberta's help, we are positioned for a seamless transition for employees, customers, and stakeholders."

Nichols took on the director's position in April 2013 after two years as its chief engineer. Nichols oversaw the department as its funding sources have tightened and it's in search of new revenue. The commission recently approved a construction and funding plan that reflects the expectation of a drop in funding to $325 million in 2017 from $700 million this year.

The commission oversees the transportation department and borrows on its behalf.

The plan calls for the commission to focus its resources on only about 8,000 miles of Missouri's 34,000-mile state highway system to keep the targeted roads in good condition. The remainder will receive limited routine maintenance.

Collections from Missouri's gasoline tax of 17 cents per gallon and transportation funding provided by the federal taxes of 18.4 cents on gasoline and 24.4 cents on diesel fuel are diminishing revenue streams. Missouri voters last year rejected a constitutional amendment raising the state sales tax to provide $5 billion for transportation needs over 10 years.

Gov. Jay Nixon during his State of the State address suggested raising the gasoline tax as an option to generate new revenue and implementing tolls on a highway in need of rebuilding, but stopped short of endorsing any specific plan and transportation funding proposals have not gained traction in the current legislative session.

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