Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interstate Upgrades Planned for 71 Highway

By Seann McAnally
The Grandview Board of Aldermen approved a slew of transportation and street improvements at its Nov. 22 regular session, including plans to upgrade to U.S. 71 before it becomes a federal interstate.
The board unanimously approved an ordinance that establishes a partnership with MoDOT to make significant improvements to U.S. 71 – a move that anticipates the transition of the highway to federal interstate status late next year, when it will become known as “I-49.”
Public Works Director Dennis Randolph said the interstate status requires a higher level of design and maintenance standards, specifically improved signage, pavement condition, and bringing frontage roads, ramps and sidewalks into compliance with current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
“Earlier this year public works department engineers met with MoDOT engineers to discuss the proposed improvements to sidewalks and ramps,” Randolph said.
It’s important to remember, Randolph said, that while the city will be responsible for maintaining any improvements in the city’s right-of-way, the construction costs will be borne by MoDOT.
“The agreement under consideration here documents the work that MoDOT will do, and is necessary, as the work will encroach onto City property,” Randolph said. “All the work…will be paid for entirely by MoDOT, and there will be no city funds required.”
MoDOT wanted to make improvements to the intersections at 140th St., Harry Truman Dr., and Blue Ridge Blvd. - but Grandview officials said those would be a waste of money at this point as projects are already in the works at those intersections.
MoDOT and the city already have a joint effort planned for re-doing the bridge on Main St. over the future I-49 sometime in 2014, Randolph said.
“We recommended that improvements not be done at Main Street as both MoDOT and the city are planning for a new bridge, as well as major street and sidewalk improvements,” Randolph told the board. “We did not want to waste funds on work that would be removed in a short period of time.”
The city expects TIF proposals for Truman Corners to make improvements to Blue Ridge Blvd. and Harry Truman Drive, though those specifics will have to be worked out with whatever developer is chosen for the project. In addition, the city already has improvements to curbs and sidewalks scheduled for Harry Truman Drive for the 2012 summer construction season, specifically on the east side of the highway.

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