Dangerous intersection, aging bridge top Gasconade County’s priority projects list

Turn lane at GR-2 campus remains a ranked project

By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
Posted 10/28/20

HERMANN — A hazardous intersection in northern Gasconade County remains the top priority transportation project on the county’s 5-year Transportation Improvement Plan — a wishlist …

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Dangerous intersection, aging bridge top Gasconade County’s priority projects list

Turn lane at GR-2 campus remains a ranked project

Posted

HERMANN — A hazardous intersection in northern Gasconade County remains the top priority transportation project on the county’s 5-year Transportation Improvement Plan — a wishlist of needed road-and-bridge projects that local officials hope will be incorporated into the statewide transit plan.

The County Commission signed off on this year’s version of the priority list after a Thursday morning meeting with representatives of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) and Missouri Department of Transportation District Engineer Preston Kramer. Kramer attended the meeting via telephone. MRPC was represented by Executive Director Bonnie Prigge and Anne Freand.

The first of the three priority projects is the intersection of Highway 100 and Route J about six miles west of Hermann. The intersection is in a sharp curve and westbound traffic on Highway 100 looking to turn onto J cannot see oncoming traffic before reaching the intersection because of the curve and the high embankment that obstructs the view.

The project has been a top item for several years, but MoDOT engineers say relocating the intersection is unlikely because of the potential cost. Relocating the intersection to a safer site would require substantial land purchase, as would any effort to remove the curve in Highway 100. Indeed, this project, unlike others on the county’s list, doesn’t include an estimated cost.

Kramer said, however, that some lower-cost steps can be taken aimed at improving safety at the junction, such as warning signs and improved vegetation control to improve sight lines.

The possible cost of the county’s second-highest priority item — the aging bridge over Frene Creek on Highway 19 (Market Street) in Hermann — might have come down recently to make the project more likely. Kramer said a recent inspection of the underside of the bridge shows that a rehab could be done, rather than a replacement, which would lower the cost from the initial estimate of $1.2 million.

“We think we can do that rehab project relatively inexpensively,” Kramer said.

The district engineer noted that while the rehab would allow wider lines on the bridge built in the 1930s, it would not deal with the issue of flooding. That would require the bridge to be raised out of the flood plain, as well as raising the Highway 19 approaches to the bridge — a much more expensive endeavor.

There is no timeline for work on a rehab of the bridge, Kramer said; however, he said, “It’s something to be looked at.”

The updated information on the Frene Creek bridge is good news for Hermann officials who have been lobbying for an improved span for several years. Hermann Mayor Bruce Cox and City Administrator Mark Wallace attended the Thursday morning session.

Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel, R-Hermann, said the possibility of a remodeled bridge is good news, also, to local businesses near the span. “I’m glad to see there is a potential for a rehab,” Miskel said, noting that five nearby businesses in the area won’t be cut off by an elevated section of highway and bridge. “That means a whole lot.”

Wallace echoed Miskel’s sentiment. “I’m glad they’re taking a look at a rehab of that bridge,” the Hermann city administrator said.

“I’ll keep the city and the Commission informed as more information comes up,” Kramer said.

The No. 3 project on the county’s list is a turn lane, or lanes, along Highway 19 from Highway 28 to the Gasconade County R-2 School District campus. A turn lane would ease safety concerns at the school and the industrial park entrance. Like the other projects, it has been on the list for several years. The 2014 cost estimate of the work ranged from $1.2 million to $2.9 million, depending on the number of lanes and the location of the lanes.

In recent years, it was downgraded when it appeared there was less interest for it on the part of the school district. It is now back as a priority project and suggested by planners as a possible partnership project involving possibly the state highway agency, the school district and county government.

There is another bridge project that Kramer suggested be considered for the priority list — a two-lane span on Route B over Dry fork Creek. A recent inspection of the bridge gave it a lower rating, moving it out of the “Fair Condition” category to the “Poor Condition.”

There are 24 items on the county’s list of needed road-and-bridge projects. All the projects involve state roads and bridges; it does not include county-maintained roads and bridges.

This list will be considered in December by the MRPC’s Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC). Each county has three representatives who will consider the priority lists submitted by all eight counties within the Meramec Region. From that meeting will emerge a regionwide priority list that will be forwarded for MRPC directors to consider. A final list will be sent to MoDOT to consider when it crafts its latest version of the 5-year Transportation Improvement Plan.

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