MoDOT, Jackson officials meet about Hope Street

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

When the light bulb turned on inside Jackson city administrator Jim Roach's head that now, while property owners are rebuilding after a tornado, might be a good time to widen South Hope Street and add a turn lane, the project wasn't even under consideration from the Missouri Department of Transportation.

With MoDOT's involvement in the East Main extension project and the widening of highways 34 and 72, South Hope Street -- also a U.S. highway -- wouldn't get a whiff of MoDOT dollars for quite some time.

But MoDOT officials agree with Roach and other city officials that the time to act on Hope Street is sooner rather than later.

And when told of the idea, a light bulb also turned on in the minds of MoDOT officials: To save time, MoDOT would do the design and the city would pay for the construction costs.

Since all of MoDOT's funds are appropriated for specific, prioritized projects five years in advance, MoDOT project designer Andy Meyer told the board of aldermen Monday night at its study session that MoDOT's on-the-table offer was about the only way the state could get going on the project unless other funds were made available.

Entertaining suggestion

After pondering MoDOT's mailed offer from district engineer Scott Meyer since last week, Roach shed some light on another possibility.

Roach suggested, in a brainstorming sort of way, that the city could loan MoDOT the money for the construction costs and then be paid back at a later date. Andy Meyer said MoDOT would entertain the suggestion and get back with city officials.

"My thought is that with this being a state highway and with all of us in Jackson paying taxes to the state, I think this is something MoDOT should improve," Roach said.

The stretch of Hope Street from East Monroe to Main Street is one of the worst bottleneck situations in town. The city's transportation study suggested that turn lanes be added at some point, but the project had not been mentioned until recently.

While the ball is now in MoDOT's court to consider a loan approach, the one currently on the table calls for MoDOT to pay for approximately $108,000 in design and construction engineering and Jackson to pay for $544,000 in construction costs.

These were worst-case scenarios put together from preliminary estimates. Andy Meyer said Monday night that about $140,000 could be whacked off the project's cost if the city could acquire some easements, which would eliminate the need to build certain retaining walls.

Immaculate Conception's church and school properties make up the largest section along the stretch. Principal Tami Nenninger said at the Monday night meeting that the school would work with the city and MoDOT for right of way. Immaculate Conception officials are hoping MoDOT will design a right-hand merge lane onto Jefferson.

A few aldermen urged Roach to push forward with the project.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

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