Cape County paving plan moves ahead

Tuesday, March 25, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com Ken Evans, a member of the Road and Bridge Advisory Board, presented a report Monday to the Cape Girardeau County Commission. Listening were commissioner Larry Bock, right, presiding commissioner Gerald Jones, commissioner Jay Purcell and Donna Oldham, administrative assistant.

Cape Girardeau County's road paving program got a forward push Monday by county commissioners. But people living along County Roads 380, 435 and 436 may find their projects dropped to the bottom of the priority list.

Easement agreements along those roads are incomplete.

Commissioners set a deadline of 4 p.m. Friday for paperwork to be signed and returned to county offices.

The road and bridge board had asked the commission to make Feb. 15 the deadline for easements, but commissioners wanted to give it more time.

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones noted some of the delays were forced by disastrous weather.

The commissioners agreed at that point on possibly using outside contractors to do some work originally intended for the county road crews. Scott Bechtold, the county's highway administrator, said the February's ice storms and March's floods have created a backlog of work for his crews.

Despite the weather problems, Bechtold said the schedule set by the road and bridge board for bids and road work was realistic.

Commissioner Jay Purcell made a motion setting the deadline for 4 p.m. Tuesday, but it died for lack of support. After some discussion about whether or when easements could be secured, Purcell made a second motion, setting 4 p.m. Friday as the deadline.

"The question becomes, do you forsake the entire set of roads getting don in a timely and efficient manner?" Purcell said.

Commissioner Larry Bock supported that motion.

"If we can't get it done by the end of this week, it's not doable. I'm ready to throw our hands up," he said.

The decision means the county's highway department can ask for bids for road grading and asphalt paving.

A chip-and-seal method is being tested on roads throughout the county; CR 380 was among the the test sites. Without easements, 380 will not be paved. Instead, county roads 363 and 383 will be substituted.

"We're at our wits end on that road," Jones said. "So as far as removing it and replacing it with your recommendation, I have no problem with that."

He went on to say two County Road 435 property owners haven't signed easements.

"They said they're going to sign. To me, that's good enough," Jones said.

The outstanding easement on County Road 436 is one where "the person involved thinks that's good enough. We're just about to the point of taking that," Jones said, referring to eminent domain.

Evans reminded the commissioners they would likely face a similar dilemma with each future year's road paving projects.

The commission's unanimous agreement opens the door for the county to invite bids for hot mix asphalt and grading and road preparation. On Feb. 21, the commissioners approved the chip and seal bid by Blevins Asphalt Construction Co. Inc. of Mount Vernon, Mo. for $788,124.

Following the vote, MoDOT project manager Andy Meyer made a presentation on 2008 projects, which include installation of a high-tension cable along 100 miles of Southeast Missouri freeways, and on a public hearing set for construction of a roundabout at Blomeyer's Route AB intersection.

The public hearing is set for 4 to 7 p.m. April 10 at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

Meyer said the state had seen a marked improvement in traffic at a large roundabout in Perryville; the one at Blomeyer will be, he said, 25 percent larger.

Roundabouts replace traffic signals, saving taxpayers an average $5,000 a year in maintenance and electricity, according to MoDOT figures. Drivers use less fuel moving through a roundabout than waiting at a lighted intersection.

The commissioners' meeting ended abruptly as they went into an emergency session to inspect County Road 255, between Routes A and U near Crooked Creek. Last week's flooding washed away a long swath of the road. County crews are going to barricade the road for safety reasons until a solution can be found. Bechtold said flooding has periodically washed out the road, which makes a sharp turn near the bridge over Crooked Creek. He will meet with commissioners Thursday to discuss options for fixing the problem.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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