R-2 officials remain firm on traffic signal, not turn lane

By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
Posted 3/9/22

HERMANN — Gasconade County R-2 School District officials remain in favor of having a traffic signal rather than a turn lane to help vehicles get on and off the campus on Highway 19.

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R-2 officials remain firm on traffic signal, not turn lane

Posted

HERMANN — Gasconade County R-2 School District officials remain in favor of having a traffic signal rather than a turn lane to help vehicles get on and off the campus on Highway 19.

That was the message Superintendent Jari Kay Hardy and Gary Pohlmann, director of transportation, brought Thursday morning to a meeting with Owensville city officials, the Gasconade County Commission and Preston Kramer, Meramec Region district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The addition of a turn lane to prevent a bottleneck at the campus had been supported for some time by the school, county and city officials. The plan had the backing, also, of Kramer. The project had been given the county’s top priority among the various transit projects. But the turn lane fell out of favor with the R-2 administration in the past couple years and the Board of Directors subsequently adopted a plan calling for a signal to help with traffic at the start of the school day and at the end of the school day.

Hardy said Thursday morning that adding a third lane would present a greater hazard than now exists, noting that a driver leaving the campus would have to watch for southbound traffic in two lanes rather than one. The superintendent said a traffic signal and making the area a no-passing zone would be better.

“That would help tremendously, versus a turn lane,” Hardy said.

Pohlmann said school administrators have been pondering the traffic situation for a long time. “We’ve been looking at this for three or four years,” he said.

Kramer previously has said the situation does not warrant the installation of a traffic signal, but such a move has proven successful at a central Missouri school district with a similar layout to that of R-2. He said Thursday morning that he would have MoDOT personnel study the R-2 situation again.

“I’ll have our traffic folks take another look at the accidents out there,” he said.

He did, however, downplay the notion that the speed limit should be substantially lowered along the campus.

“If we lowered the speed limit every time someone requested it, it would be 25 (miles per hour) everywhere,” Kramer said. “We felt the speed limit out there is the most appropriate. It’s important to set the speed limit correctly” based on the engineering information, he said.

If a signal is installed at the campus, it would be financed locally, Kramer said. 

“I doubt the city would want to pay it and maintain it,” the district engineer said. He estimated a traffic signal to have a price tag of about $50,000, plus the cost to maintain and service it. Owensville officials didn’t indicate whether they would be in favor of paying for and maintaining a signal.

Meanwhile, Kramer told the Commission that money contained in the federal infrastructure bill will enable MoDOT to take more projects from the drawing board to reality. He said Missouri is expected to receive 20 percent more federal funding in each of the next five years than it received under the normal transportation funding bill.

“That will allow us to do some things we couldn’t do before,” he said. He pointed out that while the infrastructure money has been authorized, it has yet to be appropriated by Congress.

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