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MRPC gives low marks to hazardous intersection, unsafe bridge while favoring turn lane on 19 at R-2 campus

Posted on Tuesday, December 26, 2017 at 1:25 pm

State Rep. Justin Alferman of Hermann examines a chunk of concrete that has broken off the bridge over First Creek on Highway J.

The Meramec Region’s advisory panel on transportation issues has rejected two needy projects in northern Gasconade County while favoring an upgrade to Highway 19 that apparently has lost the support of its original advocate, the Gasconade County R-2 School District.
The Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), an arm of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission, recently settled on a master list of priority transit projects within the 8-county Meramec Region.
The only Gasconade County project to be included in the High Priority portion of the list is the widening of Highway 19 to include a turn lane as it runs alongside the campus of the Gasconade County R-2 School District.
A priority item in the past several years, the project apparently has lost the support of its initial advocate, the R-2 School District. The city of Owensville might step in as leading proponent of the project, but city officials acknowledge a lack of funds locally to help meet the estiated cost of up to $3 million (based on 2014 figures).
Still, the TAC decided to make the project the county’s only High Priority item.
It pushed the Low Priority portion of the list three other Gasconade County projects:
• The hazardous intersection at Highway 100 West and Highway J.
• The one-lane Depression-era, wood-piered bridge over First Creek near that intersection.
• A proposed new bridge over Frene Creek in Hermann on Market Street.
The bridge over First Creek is considered by MoDOT to be the worst unfunded bridge in the 8-county region.
Gasconade County’s representatives on the TAC are Owensville Mayor John Kamler, Owensville City Administrator Nathan Schauf and Associate Commissioner Jerry Lairmore, R-Owensville.
The MRPC Board of Directors, which includes Gasconade County Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel, R-Hermann, and Hermann City Administrator Mark Wallace, approved the master list shortly after it was recommended by the TAC.
Hermann city officials mounted a lobbying effort to have the Frene Creek bridge project included on the region’s priority list.
It had been included as the Number 4 priority item last month by the County Commission during a session that included representatives of the MRPC and the Missouri Department of Transportation.
At that session, Hermann Mayor Robert Koerber and others made the case to have the project designated as a priority item, pointing out the need to have the span raised out of the floodplain as a way to protect city streets damaged by heavy traffic during times of flooding that closes Highway 19.
In referring to the region’s priority list, Miskel Thursday morning noted that the Frene Creek bridge project is not new; it has been on the county’s transportation wishlist for at least two years.
At the top of the regional list are two major improvement projects — Highway 63 from Osage County to the Phelps/Texas county line and Highway 50 from 1 mile west of Linn to the Gasconade/Franklin county line. Those two projects have been at the top of the regional priority list for several years.