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by Mark Cheffey
A special group appointed by Palmyra Mayor Rusty Adrian is going to attempt to do what has been elusive for decades: develop a transportation plan for the city.
The mayor’s newly appointed Community Advisory Group met Wednesday for the first of a series of meetings during which the group hopes to help in making recommendations for the transportation plan focusing for the most part on the U.S. 61/24 corridor through
That’s something city leaders have wanted for many years, but have yet to accomplish, hence the urgency expressed by Adrian in his remarks at the start of Wednesday’s meeting.
“This has been going on forever in the city of Palmyra,” Adrian told the more than 20 people gathered in the Sesquicentennial Building.
Eventually, the city of Palmyra wants to make available to the Missouri Department of Transportation specific plans for how citizens would like to see for the future of highway transportation in Palmyra.
“And we’ve put you together to work and help accomplish our goal,” Adrian said.
As the facilitator for the meetings as a group member, Marissa Ellison, MoDOT communications manager, urged members to keep an open mind to new ideas and to represent their peer group and keep them informed.
She, and another member, Kevin James, MoDOT assistant district engineer, gave an overview of Palmyra’s transportation history associated with U.S. 61 and how it has been addressed and not addressed since the highway bypass was built and improved.
They addressed the issues with the various access points to U.S. 61, with the goal of making more specific ways the accesses can be improved or even replaced.
“Eventually we will get there,” Ellison said, in outlining what the group’s efforts would be in the weeks and months ahead.
Of particular urgency, according to Ellison, was the opportunities now being made available for the completion of highway improvements.
While it has not been available in recent years, Ellison said there is now state and federal funding for projects that could improve U.S. 61 access through Palmyra.
“There are funding opportunities out there, but we have to have a plan,” Ellison said, pointing particularly to a need to make those plans available to the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments, which helps prioritize highway priorities in the region.
While no specific actions were taken during the meeting, the group informally agreed to a focus on better ways to “connect the east side and west side of U.S. 61 for all vehicles and drivers in Palmyra.”
Also discussed was the need for improving safety while also fostering future business, economic and residential growth for the city.
James outlined efforts at trying to improve access safety and how it’s been a delicate balancing act along with making sure changes do not adversely affect businesses along the U.S. 61 corridor.
“I think it’s important that we focus on safety first,” he said, noting traffic, especially truck traffic, continues to increase through Palmyra.
Ellison asked members to be a communications conduit between citizens and the group and to be willing to look at how other states and even other countries work to solve the same kinds of traffic issues Palmyra has.
The next meeting date was not set during the meeting, but members were looking at sometime in early May to meet again.
Also serving on the CAG are: Jason Janes, a surveyor and member of the Palmyra Chamber of Commerce; Ed Bogue, Palmyra police chief; Gary Crane, Palmyra fire chief; Tav Brown, Palmyra business owner and member of the Palmyra Planning and Zoning Board; Sandy Fessenden retired; Nancy Goellner, a local bank executive; Mike Schaefer, Marion County Highway superintendent; David Lomax Marion County presiding commissioner; Mark Bross, engineer; Andrew Salsman, a truck driver and Palmyra City Council member; Kirk Malone, superintendent-Palmyra schools; Jeff Wilson, business owner, Wes Tuley, realtor and developer; Steve Begley, Marion County commissioner and liaison to the Mark Twain Regional Council of Goverments; Corey Mehaffy, executive director of the Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council; and Brian Untiedt, MoDOT project manager.