County Engineer Joe Feldmann

Franklin County has received approval from the Missouri Department of Transportation for changes that have been made to the Labadie Great Streets project.

The county had to make changes to the project to cover about $93,000 in drainage facilities that were not included in the original design.

The Labadie Great Streets project intends to spruce up the Front Street area with new aesthetic amenities and drainage improvements.

County officials received MoDOT approval of the project changes Friday.

Even though changes were made, the overall look and feel of the project should be the same, said County Engineer Joe Feldmann.

For instance, one change involved switching out a costly bench design with a less expensive model, he said.

Also, a landscaping feature that would have included a railroad switch was left out to save money.

After those changes and other modifications were made, the project was still about $30,000 over budget. However, Feldmann said there was some unused money left in the project budget to help cover the balance. After that was applied, the county still had to come up with another $9,000, approximately, Feldmann said.

The intent of a Great Streets project is to generate pedestrian traffic in an area to spur economic development. The project also will include a new sidewalk, trail, light fixtures and open space.

The Labadie project will use bio-swales, which are drainage features that regenerate groundwater by way of deep-rooted natural grasses.

The project cost is about $1 million, and it is being funded with 80 percent federal dollars and 20 percent county funds, officials say. There also was about $330,000 in federal funds devoted to the project for planning and preconstruction engineering, according to the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, which administers the Great Streets program.

Feldmann noted that this project will give Front Street in Labadie a more defined thoroughfare instead of being a wide open area.

Some Labadie farmers had expressed worry about the street in the area being narrowed for the project. They thought it may make it hard for them to get their equipment through, especially when Ameren trucks were also present.

The roadway portion of the project has already been done, and Feldmann said he thinks it is wide enough for easy access at 22 feet.

By narrowing the roadway, the goal is to slow motorists to promote pedestrian traffic, he said.

Work on the aesthetic components should be under way this week, Feldmann said, adding that he hopes the project will be done around the end of May.

“It’s going to be different,” Feldmann said. “It is going to take some getting used to. Hopefully, everybody likes it.”