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by Patty Cheffey
Some of the Missouri Department of Transportation “unfunded needs” may soon be seeing some actual work.
Brian Untiedt, MoDOT area engineer, discussed what is taking place as far as work this year at Monday’s Marion County Commission meeting, during which the commissioners also heard a proposal for a roundabout on Veterans Road, learned of a new ARPA fund application, met the new Marion County Health Department administrator and held a closed session with Doyle Manufacturing.
According to Untiedt, thanks to a new fuel tax and the passage of a federal infrastructure bill, more funding will become available which should help MoDOT tackle some of the requested unfunded needs, although admittedly, not the bigger ones.
While he noted a planning study is set for the Hannibal expressway project and there is a movement to get a consultant onboard, there probably won’t ever be enough just MoDOT funds to build that road without some sort of taxing district or cost-share program.
While that project will only see minimal work this year, Untiedt said the county could see work done on some of the other projects, including pavement improvements on the minor state roads.
In discussing work that could be done soon, Untiedt also explained how those needs are arrived at, including the use of the Transportation Advisory Council through the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments.
That group prioritizes the county’s needs, and those needs then go to a regional meeting to also be prioritized before going to MoDOT for consideration.
To assist with the unfunded need projects, Untiedt said cities, Palmyra included, have established Citizen Advisory Groups, which will get feedback from the public and interested parties on proposed projects and also help figure out the best ways to address the issues.
Untiedt also noted there are some projects which are definitely scheduled for 2022, including bridge painting over the South Fabius River, pavement presentation from Edina to U.S. 61 on Route 6, diamond grind on U.S. 61 to the Mississippi River on U.S. 24, pavement improvement from U.S. 24 to U.S. 61 on Route MM, pavement preservation from Mo. 6 to U.S. 61 on Rt. V, bridge replacement over Bear Creek and Warren Barrett Drive, pavement improvement from I-72 to Route T in Hannibal on Mo. 79 and diamond grind on concrete from Monroe City to Hannibal on U.S. 36.
In other business, David Moller was present to ask about the possibility of building a roundabout at the intersection of Veterans Road and West Ely Road, the site of numerous accidents.
Moller, who said he has personally witnessed several accidents at that location, said that while people initially complain about roundabouts, that usually “goes away” after a while once they realize they don’t have to sit at a stop sign or stop light for a length of time.
While he admitted the cost is high for such a project, he also noted the safety involved. When asked, Moller also said he felt the yield signs at the intersection were confusing.
Eastern District Commissioner Larry Welch said he has been unable to find a cause for so many accidents, outside of driver inattention, and said he believes the “cost (of a roundabout) outweighs any benefit.”
He added he had visited with several commercial drivers, who do not want to see any kind of change.
In her report, Teya Stice, county improvement coordinator, said the county had received an ARPA application from Palmyra’s Zion Lutheran School in the amount of around $99,000 which includes flooring and plumbing work.
She also said she had received several receipts from Grow and Learn Day Care since that day care was informed it would be easier to reimburse them for expenses with ARPA funds, rather than fund the building they had originally requested ARPA funds to build.
In a related matter, the commissioners received a letter from Allona Kizer with MTRCG concerning the ARPA funds and noting in its “final rule”, the U.S. Treasurer Department has said counties can spend their funds on government services, which includes infrastructure and safety.
Stice also reported she had received an estimate on the carpeting for the Palmyra Courthouse courtroom and will be putting that out for bid.
The commissioners also met Craig Parsons, the new MCHD administrator, and appointed him county health officer.