MO: Transportation Planners Choose Priority Projects

May 16--CONCORDIA -- Highway 13 improvements in Ray, Lafayette and Johnson counties made the high priority list of transportation projects for the Missouri Department of Transportation's rural Kansas City district.

The Transportation Advisory Council of the Pioneer Trails Regional Planning Commission approved the top highway, transit and bike/pedestrian projects that will be done if a transportation sales tax passes the Legislature and is approved by voters.

The recommendations go to the commission for approval and then to MoDOT's district office, which will compile cost estimates on the projects.

Ray County is not in the advisory council, but is one of the five counties in the rural Kansas City district and would share in the district's allocation of funds from the sales tax revenues.

The Highway 13 improvements include four-lane routes from Interstate 70 to Warrensburg and Warrensburg south to Clinton and adding shoulders and resurfacing Highway 13 north of Richmond in Ray County.

Danny Rotert, a consultant with Burns & McDonnell, Kansas City, who is assisting the TAC with the project, suggested each county have one project included in the five to be submitted to MoDOT to win support from voters in the individual counties.

Representatives from Johnson, Lafayette and Ray counties said the Highway 13 project would be supported in all those counties.

Saline County TAC members chose improvements to the U.S. 65/I-70 intersection at the Marshall Junction as their top priority, and Pettis County TAC members chose a northeast loop on U.S. Highway 50 as theirs.

Randy Johnson, MoDOT district planning manager, said I-70 improvements and Amtrak funding may come off the top of the $480 million annual revenue from the tax.

Iin that case, he said, the Saline County project could fall under I-70 funding, and the county could move another project up to replace it.

The rural KC district would receive about two percent of that, or about $100 million.

Rotert said the projects chosen "may be in the ball park" for funding.

"The top three make a lot of sense," he said. "It seems like a supportable program, but you don't have a lot of money for alternates."

Representatives from the four counties in the Pioneer Trails RPC, Johnson, Lafayette, Saline and Pettis, agreed that funding for OATS bus replacement and expansion of services and replacement funding for the Butterfield Youth Services in Saline County are the top transit projects in the region.

Bicycle/pedestrian projects that top the list are connection of the Katy Trail in Sedalia; sidewalks on Missouri 13 in Richmond from Business 10 north to the city limits; and construction of a sidewalk with a rail or shoulder on the Missouri 23 underpass in Concordia.

Copyright 2014 - The Daily Star-Journal, Warrensburg, Mo.