Bill Stone is in the new ideas business.
As a 29-year employee of the Missouri Department of Transportation, Stone helps identify and coordinate the department's research activities. Stone is a research administrator for the Construction, Materials and Research Division.
One of those new experimental projects is a high-friction surface treatment engineers hope will help cars, trucks and other vehicles better negotiate tight curves. The first test of the treatment will be on U.S. 54 in Jefferson City at a sharp curve near the Madison Street exit where numerous tractor-trailers have scattered their cargo.
Stone's team, in the past, has studied the way that guard cables work to catch cars and keep them on the road. And recently they approved a project to allow a contract to use recycled concrete - from a former airport runway - to build a new approach to a Mississippi River bridge. Using a recycled product makes up for the lack of quarries in the St. Louis area and keeps an unsightly mound of broken concrete from despoiling the view. The group also is interested in finding ways to use powdery fly ash, an electrical plant byproduct, to replace concrete.
"MoDOT is interested in things that can save money, that allows us to do our jobs better and that provides safety to the traveling public," Stone said.
Stone first came to MoDOT in 1984, after graduating with a bachelor's of science degree in civil engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology in 1984. He spent four years as a bridge designer and another eight as a bridge inspector.
As inspector, Stone traveled all over the state and worked outdoors in all kinds of weather. He and his team often donned wetsuits to inspect the columns submerged beneath Missouri's murky streams. Often sedimentation was so thick in the waters "you had to feel your way around the columns," he noted.
It was fun "for a while," he said. "I needed to branch out into other areas."
Eventually Stone's interest in exploring new areas of road engineering led him to other jobs at MoDOT. Over the years, he's worked in the department's accident statistics section, the oversize truck permitting program and the planning division.
"I was always one who liked to build things. And tear things apart," he said.
Stone is married to Jackie, a retired MoDOT drafting technician. The two didn't quite meet at work; friends introduced the two at Viets Restaurant.
The couple has three children: Abby, 22; Kirk, 21; and Brady, 18.
In his life after hours, Stone is a devoted sports fan and former high school athlete who has coached many of his kid's sports teams.