MoDOT proposes projects near Cassville

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
A map of proposed road improvements planned for southwest Missouri showed projects that will move forward if the proposed 3/4-cent sales tax funding highway construction passes on Aug. 5. Dayton Mackey, left, retired Barry County northern commissioner, discussed some of the plans with Dan Salisbury, assistant district engineer for MoDOT. Murray Bishoff/Cassville Democrat

4 area projects hinge on 3/4-cent sales tax passing on Aug. 5

The Missouri Department of Transportation has proposed eight highway projects in Barry County, and four projects would be completed in the Cassville area if a 3/4-cent sales tax funding highway construction passes on Aug. 5.

Local projects would include: Replacing the deck of the bridge on Highway 112 near Roaring River State Park and adding sidewalks, resurfacing Highway 76 from Highway 112 to Stone County, resurfacing Highway 76 from Highway 37 to Business Highway 37 in Cassville and resurfacing Highway 37 to Highway Y in Cassville.

The Monett area would also benefit from construction projects through MoDOT should the proposed transportation tax receive a favorable nod from voters.

MoDOT officials brought a priority list to Monett for the public open house held on Tuesday at the Monett Chamber of Commerce's community room.

The biggest project would call for expanding Highway 60 to four lanes between Monett and Republic. According to Dan Salisbury, assistant district engineer, MoDOT owns adequate right-of-way between Monett and Aurora. Funds would be used to purchase right-of-way east to Republic, including a route around Billings.

Completing the four-lane expansion of Highway 60 was the major goal of the Highway 37/60 Coalition, which organized in 2001. Salisbury said the effort made by Cherry Warren, chairman of the coalition, had significantly contributed to getting the project selected.

Salisbury said the addition of three-lane passing areas on Highway 37 between Monett and Arkansas in 2007 had provided a successful model for alleviating traffic problems. MoDOT had listed among its projects, if the sales tax passes, adding similar passing lanes on Highway 171, northwest of Joplin, and on Highway 65 through Benton and Dallas counties.

The projects selected came through a complex review process. Salisbury said consultations with area municipal and county leaders in public forums with a regional planning commission produced the initial recommendations. MoDOT then reviewed the proposals and made final selections.

Local planners and MoDOT ranked both road and aviation projects. Both listed expanding the Monett Regional Airport as a major area priority. While federal grants continue to contribute to resources used to buy land and expand the current facility, the proposed sales tax would speed up the process, Salisbury said.

Passage of the sales tax will make a major difference in whether any of the proposed projects see completion.

"In 2010, MoDOT had a budget of $1.3 billion for construction," Salisbury said. "This year, it's $700 million. By 2017, it will be $325 million.

"Once the budget falls under $500 million, we can't do anything but basic maintenance. It will be a pretty drastic change if it doesn't pass. Lower volume roadways will be hard to do as a project. More than likely we will try to keep the busiest roads smooth. The rest will suffer."

Salisbury also pointed out that under the sales tax proposal, funds generated locally will stay in southwest Missouri.

On MoDOT's 10-year plan is an environmental study for Interstate 44. Salisbury said a similar study has already been completed for Interstate 70 between St. Louis and Kansas City, opening the way for rebuilding and expanding that highway to six lanes. Similar improvements are eyed for I-44 over time, he added.

Eight projects are listed for Barry County:

* Replacing the deck of the bridge on Highway 112 near Roaring River State Park and adding sidewalks;

* Resurfacing Highway 76 from Highway 112 to Stone County;

* Resurfacing Highway 76 from Highway 37 to Business Highway 37 in Cassville;

* Resurfacing Highway 37 to Highway Y in Cassville;

* Widening Highway 60 to four lanes from Monett through Lawrence and Christian counties.

* Resurfacing Business Highway 60 from Monett to Highway 60;

* Repairing or replacing the bridge over Little Flat Creek on Highway VV;

* Improving corporate hangars and taxiways at the Monett Regional Airport.

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