Gasconade R-2 officials reject city turn lane partnership; request stoplight, no passing zone

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 1/12/22

Gasconade County R-2 School District officials on Dec. 20 came to an apparent consensus they would not be interested in partnering with the city and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to …

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Gasconade R-2 officials reject city turn lane partnership; request stoplight, no passing zone

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Gasconade County R-2 School District officials on Dec. 20 came to an apparent consensus they would not be interested in partnering with the city and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to create a turn lane from the bowling alley to Owensville High School for safety reasons.

Superintendent Dr. Jeri Kay Hardy informed the board of education that she and Transportation Director Gary Pohlmann visited to see if they turn lane would be good or bad.

“When Gary and I were talking about this,” Hardy began, showing board members a rudimentary drawing on the Gerald Elementary School art room drawing board. “If you are traveling north in front of the Owensville campus, we are turning in here and turning in here (showing entrances of the multiple driveways), the buses are coming up Dutchmen Drive. They are going to have to look across this lane of traffic and this lane of traffic (showing both directions across the highway) which is going to impair their vision.”

Hardy asked the board to also consider their student drivers.

“So if we have our turn lane here and a regular lane here, and our students, you would not only have to watch this lane of traffic and this lane of traffic, but our buses coming off of Dutchmen Drive,” Hardy said, referring to the diagram. “That’s kind of a hazard.”

Hardy continued that if a turn lane was implemented in the middle of the road, there would be vision problems coming from both directions at all entrances and across both lanes.

“We have new drivers and bus drivers that are hauling our most precious children and so if you look at that, this is really not the best idea for our district,” Hardy said. “However, if we could get the transportation department to put in a traffic light, that would be a lot more cost-saving and more effective.”

Board members nodded in agreement at Hardy’s explanation.

“So at this time, the city had wondered if that was something we were interested in — if you all feel differently, we can talk about this later, but when you look at all the obstructions in vision to the bus drivers and drivers,” Hardy said. “We really think that a traffic light or a no-passing zone would be the best solution in front of the high school.”

Pohlmann was expected to attend the meeting but was unable to attend.

“I am presenting for Gary,” Hardy said, laughing at her artwork. “Any questions regarding the turn lane?”

Board members did not discuss the turn lane afterward, nor was any action taken.

Owensville city officials at their Dec. 20 meeting asked for a letter from the school district if they decline to participate in the project. The school’s prior administrator had told city officials the school would not be a participant in a cost-share project for adding a turn lane but would grant a road frontage easement as necessary to complete the project.

Owensville Mayor John Kamler on Thursday told members of the Gasconade County Commission meeting in Owensville that he was “frustrated” with school officials on the lack of support for the project.

Owensville Administrator Randy Blaske at the Jan. 3 city meeting shared with aldermen his recent conversation with Hardy where he relayed her wishes for a traffic control stop light and creation of a no-passing zone in front of the schools. 

Blaske also shared that conversation with commission members and suggested  he wanted to have an “in depth meeting” with her before the issue was formally shelved. Blaske is attempting to clear off old business items from the city’s agenda. This topic has been part of old business discussions now since 2017, Blaske told commissioners.

“Now you see my frustration,” said Kamler who suggested the state’s area transportation engineer meet with city and school officials.

(With additional reporting by Dave Marner of The Republican’s staff).

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