City leaders may commit funds for a route study plan with the hopes that Highway 47 will be improved if a statewide sales tax is approved. The city’s parks, building, development and public service committee agreed to join other entities to chip in for the estimated $200,000 feasibility study, also called an operational study.
Mayor Mike Livengood said there have been verbal commitments from the cities of St. Clair and Washington, and Franklin County to each commit $50,000 to fund the route study.
City committee members agreed to verbally commit the funds.
Alderman Jim Albrecht voted against the measure. The full board of aldermen must approve the funding.
Livengood explained that at a subcommittee meeting last week to discuss Highway 47, the group met with Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Area Engineer Judy Wagner, and consultant firms who recommended the plan.
“We want to be prepared if the tax passes,” he said.
The plan would likely include a conceptual drawing that shows the “most sensible route” for the highway.Livengood added that the plan would not include aligning Highway 47 north and Highway 47 south.
“These firms we talked to didn’t have a problem with the jag,” he said.
Livengood said this study is the first step in preparing for roadway improvements. He said this study will be conducted before an environmental study which has a “shelf life.”
“I don’t think we’re making a bad decision by doing a route plan,” he said. “We need to start somewhere on Highway 47,” added Alderman Bob Schmuke.
Alderman Dustin Bailey said the city’s priority should be Highway 50 to Interstate 44 and Highway 47 south to I-44.
“I think our greatest need is to get to the interstate in both directions,” he said. “That will help our industries and get our product out.”
Bailey added that the funding is reliant on a tax that may not be approved, and there will be more steps taken that could be costly.
“If that is the first step, I’m concerned about the next step,” he said.
Albrecht said the city’s $50,000 contribution could be used for other needs.
“That $50,000 could buy a dump truck for the parks department,” he offered as an example.
Alderman David Pope asked why the cities and county are funding this on a state highway.“Isn’t this a state highway?” he said. “Does the state look for ways to not put things in the budget?”
“Basically they have the attitude that if you don’t chip in they won’t do it,” said Livengood.
Funding for the widening of Highway 47 could soon become available if the Legislature passes a bill to put a 1-cent transportation tax before voters.If the bill passes, the issue would likely be on the ballot before voters Nov. 2014.
The Highway 47 Committee on Wednesday also formally endorsed the 1-cent transportation sales tax proposal in the Legislature. The proposed tax would generate about $7.9 billion over the 10-year life of the tax statewide.With the needed studies done in advance, widening Highway 47 between Washington and Union could possibly be done by 2018 if the 1-cent tax is approved.