The city should take a “back seat” approach in the quest for a federal grant to build a new Augusta Bottom Road in nearby Warren County, a Washington city official said.
That’s the recommendation from City Administrator Jim Briggs regarding a proposal by the Boonslick Regional Planning Commission to apply for a grant to relocate the bottom road from the top of a levee.
The levee road provides a connection between Highway 47 just north of the Missouri River bridge to Augusta in St. Charles County. The major portion of the road is in Warren County with a smaller, paved section in St. Charles County.
Briggs said he has been corresponding with Steve Etcher, Boonslick executive director, who is in the process of contacting area government officials about the level of local matching funds they are willing to contribute in order to obtain the federal grant.
“We have not received anything yet, but it should be coming up by the next meeting,” Briggs told city council members Monday evening.
Assuming that Boonslick will apply for a $2.7 million to $3 million grant to build the new road off the levee, the local 20 percent match would be between $540,000 and $600,000, Briggs noted in a recent email to members of the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee.
“I’m not recommending the city participate” (in the local match), he said, noting that the final decision will be up to the council.
In his email to the transportation committee, Briggs said the position he and Mayor Sandy Lucy have taken is that the city of Washington should act as a “facilitator” for the project by providing a meeting place and initial engineering assistance through staff members.
“We believe it is in everyone’s best interest that the project is not perceived as a Washington project,” Briggs said in the email.
He also noted that by state statute, the city is limited to spending no more than 10 percent of general fund revenue for roads within five miles that lead into the city.
The city currently has a “significant” commitment for those funds dedicated to the Highway 100 east widening project that was completed several years ago, Briggs noted.
At a meeting last month, Etcher asked officials from Washington, Augusta, Warren, St. Charles and Franklin counties, Three Creeks Village and the Dutzow Bottoms Levee District to consider how much they would be willing to spend over the next three to five years toward the local match.
If the area government entities cannot agree to fund the local match, it could be a “deal breaker,” Etcher said at that meeting.
Some of that matching amount could be through in-kind services, like removing the current road from the top of the levee, it was explained.
Adjacent property owners appear to be in agreement or at least open to discussing removing the road off the levy, Briggs said. “Obviously they are reluctant to give a blanket OK until they see preliminary plans,” he noted in the email.
Warren County would have to apply for the disaster aid grant through the Economic Development Administration (EDA).
The EDA has allocated $51 million for disaster projects from the 2011 fiscal year in a 10-state area that includes Missouri.
Warren County qualifies to apply because it had three disaster declarations last year, Etcher said.
The grant funds are competitive and there is no application deadline, but Etcher said he believes the grant funds will disappear quickly.
If the application is submitted by September, the county likely would be notified of the EDA’s decision by October or November.
Even though the road is not in the city’s jurisdiction, the transportation committee has been pushing for improvements to the bottom road for many years because it serves as a vital link between Washington and areas of St. Charles County, including Augusta.
Those efforts were intensified after a 16-year-old Washington girl died in late 2010 when she crashed her car into a large pond along what is known as the Augusta Parkway.
Recently, the city council approved a $2,000 match for a state grant to conduct a safety analysis along the road.