Now is the time, while “the iron is hot,” to push forward with a decades-old plan for a corridor south of Washington.
That’s what Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker said Monday during a Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee discussion on the city’s proposed east-west parkway plan.
The east-west parkway is a reoccurring agenda item for transportation officials, yet it is rarely discussed.
Due to increased development south of Highway 100 along High Street and to the south, it may be time to move from talking to planning, members agreed.
“It might be time to get this started,” said Brinker, a member of the transportation committee. “The time is now — strike while the iron is hot.”
The east-west parkway is part of the city’s comprehensive plan that provides for future growth.
“The more connectivity you have the better off your region or community is going to be, as far as for emergencies and accessibility to services,” Brinker stated. “That’s why I think we need to have a discussion in terms of looking at solutions or potential ignition.”
City Administrator Darren Lamb told the committee that he would provide plans that detail the corridor route, including a study done in the late 1990s to early 2000s that highlighted where the corridor would be.
Under Missouri law, a municipality has authority to plan and construct roadways which “lead to and from the city” that are within five miles of the city limits.
The comprehensive plan calls for a street or parkway that would extend from High Street and Highway 100, south to Highway A, then east to South Point Road, with intersections at Highway 47 and Bieker Road. The proposed road would link to South Point Road near North Goodes Mill Road at its eastern end.
Lamb noted that the east-west gateway plan dates back to the 1980s. It has been part of the city’s comprehensive plan for at least 20 years.
“We have always said this road is not needed until property develops,” he said. “As property develops we want a roadway planned so we don’t put everything on Highway 100.”
Lamb added that at the time Highway 100 was two lanes. In 2005, voters approved a half-cent transportation sales tax to fund Highway 100 widening to four lanes.
Over the past few years there has been development on the south side of Highway 100 in the High Street area. That includes Riverbend Estates senior residential community and Casey’s General Store.
“I would ask that we get together and discuss the opportunity to extend High Street and start on this project from the public/private partnership aspect of it,” Brinker said. “We have had it on our agenda here for multiple years, with really not much action at all.
“This might be a perfect point to apply for federal funds,” he added.
According to Lamb, property owners are aware of the east-west parkway plan, and the comprehensive plan includes a 400-foot-wide corridor from north to south where the route potentially could be located.
“I have discussed this with developers several times and we will help coordinate the meeting to get all entities together,” Lamb stated.
He added that if federal funding is sought, applications for the entire east-west corridor should be considered.
“Let’s not request public assistance to piecemeal, let’s lay it all out and do a bigger project . . . ,” Lamb said.
He further noted that 90 percent of the land where the corridor is proposed is in unincorporated Franklin County.