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story.lead_photo.caption Jason Williams

Don't change horses midstream.

That's an old adage followed by Missouri's State Employee of the Month for July.

In Jason Williams' case, the stream was the Mississippi River. However, it wasn't a horse, but rather, his leadership that didn't change in the middle of an environmental impact study for a proposed new bridge connecting Perryville, Missouri, and Chester, Illinois.

"Jason's recent work leading the Chester Bridge Environmental Assessment completion and the Center Junction Interchange Replacement go above and beyond his normal duties and represent important milestones towards the delivery of two regionally significant projects," Andy Meyer, assistant district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation's Southeast District, wrote on the nomination form.

Williams, of Jackson, has served 22 years with the department. In 2018, he was promoted to the position of construction and materials engineer in the Southeast District. In his previous role as transportation project manager, he had begun the environmental study for the proposed replacement of the narrow, two-lane Mississippi River bridge, built in 1942, on Missouri 51 in Perry County.

"This major bridge is a priority for the department," Meyer said. "Jason's work leading the consultant team that would deliver the difficult and time-consuming environmental document was critical to keeping the project moving."

However, Williams' promotion posed a problem. A change in team leadership in the middle of the study would lead to significant, unwanted delays, so he proposed a solution — stay on the project. Under his continued leadership, the environmental review was completed.

At the same time, he continued his management of the district's core team developing the $17.5 million dollar replacement of the U.S. 61 and I-55 interchange at Center Junction in Cape Girardeau County.

Again, Williams is credited with understanding that, in spite of his promotion, changing oversight during a critical time would result in missed deadlines and details, so he retained responsibility for the complex project.

"Jason's leadership of the Southeast District construction and materials staff, Chester Bridge core team, Center Junction core team, and numerous other daily contributions to the management of MoDOT's Southeast District serve as the best example of a state employee with a heart for public service," Meyer concluded. "Jason has shown a commitment to Missouri state taxpayers, and consistently delivers transportation projects of great value."

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