Officials to discuss safety on Highway Y

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Improving safety on Highway Y from Cassville High School to Main Street will be the focus of a meeting on Monday, Sept. 24 between Cassville city officials, Missouri Department of Transportation district engineer Becky Balz and the Barry County Commission.

The meeting will take place at 11 a.m. in the Commission's chamber on the first floor of the Barry County Courthouse. Cassville Mayor Tracy Holle will be attending the meeting along with City Administrator Mike Hayslip. Representatives of the Southwest Missouri Council of Governments (SMCOG) will also be present.

The meeting is being held following the death of Cassville High School freshman Michael Galyen who was struck by a car on Highway Y between 17th and 18th Streets while he was walking to school on Sept. 10. He died Sept. 12 from the injuries he suffered in the accident.

"Our condolences go out to the Galyen family," said Holle at Monday night's Cassville City Council meeting.

"We want citizens to know we are aggressively working on the issue (of safety along Highway Y)," said Holle. "Something has to be done and we'll get it done."

Holle said she has been in contact with Balz at MoDOT as well as Rep. David Sater. Hayslip said he has contacted Congressman Roy Blunt's office as well on the issue. In addition, the city has applied for a Safe Route to Schools grant, which if approved, would fund construction of a sidewalk between the high school and middle school campuses that would get students off of Highway Y.

"We're very hopeful that that grant will be approved," said Holle.

At Monday night's city council meeting, Alderman Joe Cavness distributed a letter written by John Sullivan, president of the Cassville R-IV School Board, to the council. He said the letter had been sent to Sen. Jack Goodman, Rep. Sater and other state officials.

In the letter written on Sept. 14, Sullivan requests assistance from these state officials.

"As we prepare for the funeral of a child, we are looking for remedies to a problem that has existed for 13 years," wrote Sullivan. "Highway Y is narrow and has no sidewalks.

"School district personnel and city personnel have tried a number of options to try to improve the safety for our children," Sullivan continued "City of Cassville personnel have written two grants since our high school was built. Both were unsuccessful. The school has tried to purchase land from local landowners for the purpose of building a sidewalk, but we have been unsuccessful as well."

At the end of his letter, Sullivan asks for assistance in getting the highway widened, a sidewalk constructed and marked crosswalks and flashing warning lights installed.

"We are pleading our case in the name of safety," concluded Sullivan. "Our goal is to get the children of the Cassville R-IV School District to school and back home safely."

Because Highway Y is a state highway, MoDOT will have to approve any major changes made to the roadway. Both the city and the school are seeking funding to help with safety improvements.

"It's going to take work on our part, but I know we have a lot of support from the community on this," added Holle. "I think we now have people willing to listen. It's just sad it took something like this to get their attention."

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