The city of Washington will lend its support for a proposed project to construct a biking/hiking path along Highway 47 in Warren County.
The proposed 10-foot-wide trail would extend from the Washington bridge to the Katy Trail at Dutzow, providing a long-sought link between the popular state biking trail and Washington.
Members of the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee voted unanimously Monday morning to recommend that the city council get behind the project and submit a letter of support to MoDOT’s Northeast District which has submitted an application for a grant.
“This is a necessary improvement to extend the bicycle path that will be constructed as part of the new Missouri River bridge,” Bill Straatmann, transportation committee chairman, said in the letter to the council.
A new $60 million bridge is in the new State Transportation Improvement Program, with construction tentatively slated to begin in 2016-17.
The committee also recommended that the city donate right of way for the trail along the Washington Regional Airport property which would “further demonstrate the regional support that exists for this project,” Straatmann’s letter states.
During their meeting Monday night, city council members agreed to send a letter supporting the proposal.
Still in question is whether or not the city can use city funds to help MoDOT meet a 20 percent match needed for the grant.
Erik Maninga, MoDOT area engineer for the northeast district, told transportation committee members Monday that he has submitted the application for a new round of enhancement grant funds. The state has approximately $40 million in grant funds for cities and counties in rural parts of the state, he said. About $10 million of that is earmarked for MoDOT projects.
Franklin County or Washington are not eligible to apply for any of the grant funds because they are part of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments which covers the St. Louis Metropolitan region.
Maninga estimated that the trail would cost about $500,000. It would be built on the east side of Highway 47 and be separated from the highway by a ditch line, he noted. MoDOT would need to acquire right of way from the bridge to Dutzow, he said.
Preliminary review of the applications may begin this week, Maninga said, and the selection of projects is expected in early November.
He noted that the city’s support in donating right of way will be a big plus toward getting the grant.
City Engineer Dan Boyce said he spoke with City Administrator Jim Briggs about whether the city could donate funds for the project to increase the match and chances of obtaining the grant.
“We can for a road,” Boyce said. “But we’re not sure if we can use city funds for a bike path outside the city limits.”
State law allows cities to spend up to 10 percent of general fund revenue per year on roads within 5 miles of the corporate limits that lead to the city.
During the council meeting Monday night, Briggs said his office is still “looking into” whether the city can legally provide funding or right of way for the project.
There was no further discussion before the council voted to accept the committee’s letter and to send a letter supporting the project.
Previously, Maninga told city officials that resurfacing of Highway 47, from Warrenton to Washington is scheduled for 2014 and that work will include 6-foot-wide paved shoulders.
Also in 2014, the state plans to realign Highway 47 along the Hopewell Hill section, Maninga said. That section has several hairpin curves that run along a deep ravine.