Osage Beach's hopes of extending Osage Beach Parkway from near Key Largo west to the Route Y intersection were dealt a blow in January when MoDOT officials announced cost-share funding would not be available.
Osage Beach’s hopes of extending Osage Beach Parkway from near Key Largo west to the Route Y intersection were dealt a blow in January when MoDOT officials announced cost-share funding would not be available.
“It’s indefinitely on hold,” Lynch said of the cooperative plan to reopen the Parkway to two-way traffic. Currently, the Parkway ends abruptly near Lazy Days Road, blocked by a guardrail and large pile of dirt.
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission in January voted not to add additional projects to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and to suspend the cost-share program that has enabled communities to build projects they otherwise could not afford. That included Osage Beach, which lobbied MoDOT for months to find funding to reopen the Parkway.
The decision was made in the face of a construction budget that will plummet to $325 million per year in fiscal year 2017.
“Until a different decision is made, that’s it,” Lynch said.
Extension of the Parkway is estimated to cost more than $3 million, with the city of Osage Beach tagged with about $1 million of that total. Most of the city’s cost is in acquisition of right-of-way and extension of wastewater sewer service to address possible future residential and commercial expansion.
The extension agreement came after months of discussion between the city, MoDOT and property owners along the west end of Osage Beach Parkway. When Highway 54 expressway opened and the west end of the Parkway was closed, property owners marched on Osage Beach City Hall in protest.
Lynch said the Parkway extension has been designed and “is ready in case something changes. There is right of way that still needs to be acquired, but at least the design is out of the way.”
City Administrator Nancy Viselli said David Silvester, Central District engineer for MoDOT, assured the city in a Jan. 17 letter that the Central District is committed to the project, and that the design team is moving forward with plans as originally scheduled.
Public Works Director/City Engineer Nick Edelman said the city can’t begin any right-of-way acquisition until the design work is completed because the city wouldn’t know how much property is needed.
The state’s decision to suspend cost-share funding caught the attention of one Osage Beach resident. Phyllis Marose, a candidate for the Ward 2 alderman position currently held by Michelle Myler, urged the board at its Feb. 20 meeting to “address and take charge of the issue.”
She urged the city to “do something,” including possibly reallocating funds from other area projects.
“That would be a board decision,” Viselli said, “and to date the board has not requested staff to make any changes to the 2014 budget.”
Sales tax increase
There’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon that could help alleviate MoDOT’s financial woes and ultimately free up money for the Parkway extension.
A Missouri House committee is considering a one-cent sales tax increase to fund state transportation projects. officials have said the penny tax could generate $8 billion over the next decade.
If approved by the Legislature, the tax would go on the statewide ballot in November. The tax would need to be re-approved by voters after 10 years to remain in effect.
State Rep. Rocky Miller is non-committal on the proposal until he learns more about it.
“I will review the bill and decide if it should be voted on by the people,” Miller said. “Missouri is facing a decrease in the funds used to build and maintain our roads and we will have to decide if we want to continue funding them at previous levels.”