Two Osage Beach projects that have been the focus of much community discussion over the last 18 months have been spared from budget woes facing the Missouri Departmet of Transportation in the coming years.
Improvements to the Key Largo intersection at Osage Beach Parkway and Highway 54 expressway, and extension of the Parkway west to Route Y are still going to happen despite warnings by MoDOT officials that the state's transportation coffers are shrinking.
MoDOT Director Dave Nichols told the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission recently that the wants of Missourians far exceed funds available after the transportation budget has fallen from a six-year average of $1.2 billion to about $700 million this year.
Between 2005 and 2009, funds made available by Amendment 3 allowed the state to make significant improvements in safety. However, while that funding was temporary, the need to make safety improvements will only continue to increase, Nichols said.
Missouri depends on federal and state fuel tax for 70 percent of the funding for state roadways, and declining fuel sales have also impacted the state's budget.
"There's only enough available to take care of what we have," MoDOT area engineer Bob Lynch said. "So, what we will be doing is taking care of the system we have."
Lynch recently said that the Key Largo project will be let for bids in January and should be completed by Memorial Day.
The one-time cost to the city of Osage Beach, which partnered in the project, is $99,318 with MoDOT picking up the balance of the $538,698. Construction is expected to start next spring.
Lynch said the intersection will be closed for about 30 days next spring so the work can be completed quickly, rather than piecemeal that could take longer.
The eastbound onramp from Key Largo to the expressway will be lengthened similar to the standard on ramps at other interchanges. Currently, the acceleration lane is shorter and motorists must merge more quickly.
The off ramp coming from the west won't be lengthened, but the curve from the expressway onto Key Largo will be softened as the road ties in to the Parkway.
How the interchange operates now will not change. Westbound turns from Key Largo onto the expressway will not be allowed.
An overhead truss sign will be installed for off ramp traffic that announces Osage Beach Parkway. Part of the city's funding ensures the sign will extend out over the eastbound lane in advance of the Key Largo intersection.
The intersection, which connects the expressway and the dead-end Parkway, is the site of two traffic fatalities and six accidents in a four-month period last year. The intersection was closed while MoDOT attempted to revamp the area to prevent motorists from turning left (west) onto the expressway from the Parkway, but some motorists continued to ignore the no-left-turn warning.
Page 2 of 2 - The other issue involving the intersection was the impact that dead-ending the Parkway had on businesses along the Parkway between Route KK and Lazy Days Road. Dozens of business and property owners along that stretch of the Parkway pleaded with the city and MoDOT to re-open and improve the Key Largo intersection as a way to get people on and off of the Parkway.
Also include in the existing State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) is extension of the Parkway west to the Y Road interchange. This is also part of a plan to reintroduce eastbound and westbound traffic to the Parkway, and opens up the Parkway which dead ends near Lazy Days Road.
The project is estimated to cost $3.5 million, with the city's share about $1,167,000. The one-mile-plus, two lane road will run approximately parallel to the eastbound expressway lanes and will require the acquisition of right of way easements from adjacent landowners. There is still right-of-way to buy, but Lynch said the city hopes to get most of the right-of-way donated as part of its share of the project cost.
"We're already surveying the location of the roadway, and we're starting to get a physical design developed," Lynch said.
He expects bids to be let in early 2015 with construction to be completed within about 18 months of the bid letting. That places opening of the outer road in late 2016 of early 2017.