Aldermen on Tuesday voted unanimously to pursue a “cost-share” funding plan to add a turn lane on Highway 28 between the Highway 19 North intersection and Krausetown Road.
Preston Kramer, area engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Central District, spelled out the city’s options in a 45-minute presentation to the full board. Kramer said the proposal to add a 12-foot wide third lane designated for turning off the highway, with 4-foot shoulders on either side of the roadway, at an estimated cost of $998,756.
Under the proposal, which received a “consensus motion to proceed,” the city’s portion of the project would come to $449,378 — roughly 50 percent of the total cost based on a “conceptual estimate.” Kramer said the city could commit to contribute up to 50 percent of the total cost or a set dollar amount “no more or no less.”
He explained cost estimates were developed for the project based on projections put together by what he calls his “Meramec Area Team.” Estimates are good for up to two years from the initial application process through to construction.
Kramer put the concerns of Ward 1’s Bobbie Berger at ease commenting, “I’ve been pretty impressed with the team’s estimates. There are some pretty smart members on this team. These are good estimates.”
Kramer explained the city could apply now and make plans for completing the project during the 2014 construction season. The only way MoDOT will come on board is through the cost-share proposal. If the city is approved, MoDOT funding from the Central District would include 20 percent, or $199,751 in funding. The remaining 30 percent, or $299,627, would come from MoDOT’s cost-share program fund.
The city could either issue bonds or apply to participate in the Missouri Transportation Finance Corporation (MTFC) low-interest loan program, usually at 3-percent interest or less.
MoDOT would handle all the design elements for the project as well as administer the construction contract, acquire the right-of-ways and obtain environmental permitting as needed.
Kramer said funding for next summer’s 2013 fiscal year is nearly depleted but the city could seek funding for 2014 or 2015. Aldermen agreed to work for 2014 funding. City Administrator John Tracy will work with Kramer to submit the city’s application by the next scheduled quarterly meeting of MoDOT’s Cost-Share Committee on Sept. 26.
In these quarterly meetings, a committee decides which cost-share projects MoDOT will help fund. “This is a really good project,” said Kramer.
He explained that while project like turn lanes are proven to reduce accidents on dangerous stretches of state highways, the stretch along Highway 28
“doesn’t really fall into the category of what MoDOT needs to do. It doesn’t fall into the category of what MoDOT has to do. The only way to move forward is a partnership project.”
He explained there was $30 million available each year for cost-share projects which are highly competitive. He noted he has submitted six successful projects. He stressed to the aldermen that shorter-term loans, no more than five years, are considered more favorably in the application process.
“Local entities must,” he noted, “bring 50 percent or more to the table or it will be thrown out.”
Any local participation from businesses would also aid in the city’s being approved for a cost-share project, Kramer said.
Ward 2 Aldermen John Kamler, a member of the Meramec Region’s Transportation Advisory Committee, said the project was supported by that group. “If we don’t ask for it, someone else is going to get it,” he added.
“I think we need to move and move quickly,” said Berger.
In talking with Kramer about the proposal, Tracy told the board a 5-year loan from the MTFC could be paid back from the Capital Projects sales tax fund and would not deplete a separate sales tax fund designated for street repairs and improvements.
Kramer will assist the city with its application. A formal agreement would be required if the city is approved for participation in the program.
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