Not for the lack of trying on the city’s part, a proposal to install a center turn lane near the Owensville schools, or even just a right-hand turn lane or two, appears dead in the …
Not for the lack of trying on the city’s part, a proposal to install a center turn lane near the Owensville schools, or even just a right-hand turn lane or two, appears dead in the water.
Randy Blaske, Owensville’s city administrator, shared recent communications between the city, its contact with the Missouri Department of Transportation, and school officials. He said he is ready to remove the topic as a long-standing agenda item under “old business” since it appears there is no interest on the school district’s part to participate in a cost-share project with the city, and, or MoDOT.
MoDOT’s engineer for the region, Preston Kramer, attempted to refute the school administration’s rationale that a turn lane near the high school or middle school would potentially make traffic issues at the intersections less safe since motorists exiting the campus would be looking across another lane of traffic to enter Highway 19.
“ I checked with several of my peers statewide, and we are all unaware of any roadway segment that was made less safe through the addition of turn lanes,” Kramer wrote in an email to city officials which was shared with school officials.
The city has been attempting to obtain a commitment from the current school administrator and her predecessor to participate in such a project near the OMS and OHS buildings along 19. Dr. Chuck Garner previously cited bus and parent pick-up traffic pattern changes between campus buildings and changes to departure scheduling in their effort to lessen traffic congestion before and after school hours. Dr. Jeri Kay Hardy, current superintendent, cited new thinking among transportation administration staff that adding turn lanes might create new sight-line issues exiting school grounds onto 19.
Blaske shared some findings Kramer put together with Hardy in a recent email. He also shared with The Republican.
“The State is still proposing the turn lane but it appears the study shows that the road is within safety tolerations according to MODOT’s other similar studies,” Blaske wrote in his message to Hardy.
Blaske inherited a rather lengthy list of old, or unfinished, business items when he joined the city’s staff. He’s trying to reduce the list of items which have not gained enough traction to either resurface as action items or be dropped entirely.
Kramer, for his part, appears to have done anything and everything he can do to assist the city and the Gasconade County R-2 School District make a decision on this issue.
He noted this project could be a good one for potential cost-share funding cooperation between the city, school, and state.
In a May 4 email to the city and county commissioners, Kramer noted “This section of Route 19 is below the state-wide accident average for comparable roadways.”
He reviewed Missouri State Highway Patrol crash reports over the past 10 years and cited those, noting, “Most of the accidents within the last ten years tend to occur during the morning school start and afternoon school release, and most of these accidents could have been avoided with the addition of some turn lanes, specifically, a two-way left turn lane through all the school entrances (and maybe extending down to old 19) and a northbound right turn lane at Dutchmen Drive.”
While these incidents produced primarily minor injuries, he acknowledged there was the potential for cost-sharing on improvements through this area which has notable traffic congestion during morning and afternoon hours.
“As the accident rate is well under the state-wide average for comparable roadways, this is probably not a project that MoDOT would undertake 100%, but I still think this makes an excellent cost-share project as part of our mission is improving safety along all Missouri’s roadways,” Kramer wrote.
Of 13 incidents he received from MSHP reports, there were four crashes where there would have been no advantage to having turn lanes. Two involved minor injuries where patients were treated and released at the scene. The others were primarily property damage cases. One was caused by a deer strike.
The city could, if it wishes to participate financially, in a popular state funding program where project costs are shared between parties. Additional state funding was added this year for creating cost-share programs overseen by MoDOT. The creation of the center turn lane on Highway 19 from the 19 North junction to Krausetown Road was completed through this cost-share program. New cost estimates would need to be developed should the city want to add turn lanes north of the 28 and 19 North junction toward the north industrial park entrance at Commercial Drive. That would include upgrades to the intersection of 19 North with Nursing Home Road and East Springfield Road.
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