MoDot officials said they plan on making a final decision in the next month on a design plan to improve a dangerous stretch of Route 47 at Hopewell Hill.
Erik Maninga, MoDOT area engineer, made the announcement Tuesday at a packed meeting where members of the public were given an opportunity to comment on three proposed realignment design plans.
Nearly 100 people attended the meeting which was held at the Warren County Fire Protection District Station on Route 47.
MoDOT has been working with the community and its planning partner, Boonslick Regional Planning Commission, to design improvements for Hopewell Hill — a one-mile stretch of highway that has no shoulders and two sharp S-curves.
Maninga said the accident rate on Hopewell Hill is double that of similar statewide roads.
“This would be a major improvement and something that is necessary given the high accident rate,” Maninga said. “We’re trying to be proactive with this project because we think there is going to be exponentially more traffic on this road after the new Missouri River bridge at Washington is completed in 2017.”
Three different design options were on display at the meeting.
MoDOT’s preferred design plan is the most expensive of the three alteratives at a cost of $3.2 million. The design would eliminate two of the curves and would include two 11-foot lanes with 4-foot paved shoulders. It would allow for safe travel at 50 mph under normal conditions versus the current 25 mph
The plan would move the road slightly to the east of its existing location just north of the Coventry subdivision entrance and to the west of the existing road further north.
A second design option would soften the existing road’s curves and add shoulders. It would allow vehicles to travel at 40 mph This plan is projected to cost $2.3 million.
The least expensive option would cost $1.9 million and would add 4-foot shoulders to the exiting roadway.
“We prefer the first option because it would eliminate both curves,” Maninga explained.
Maninga said MoDOT would need to acquire 14 acres of right of way for the project including the taking of at least one house.
While many who attended the meeting said they were in favor of improving the road, not all were happy with the proposed realignment options.
“We hate it,” Leslie Stone said. “It (the preferred design) takes portions of four properties. We absolutely want the road fixed. We just like the option that costs a million dollars less and stays on the west side (of the existing road).”
Stone and her husband live in the Coventry subdivision on the east side of Route 47. A portion of their property would be impacted under MoDOT’s preferred plan.
Mike Wakim, who serves on the Coventry Board of Trustees, said three property owners on the east side of Route 47 and three property owners on the right side would be impacted by the road realignment.
“We’re not opposed to improving the road,” he said. “What we are asking is they keep the construction to the west side of the existing (Route) 47. It just makes more sense.”
Bill Guelker, another Coventry property owner, agreed with Wakim.
“It makes more sense when you look at the elevations and the amount of fill that would be required,” Guelker added. “They (MoDOT officials) explained to my satisfaction why they wanted to do what they are proposing, so I accept that. But it doesn’t take a lot to pull it (the road) to the west,”
Wakim said he was going to submit his own design plan to MoDOT for consideration.
MoDOT District Engineer Paula Gough said she encouraged people to submit comments online which would be accepted until Nov. 14.
“We are getting a lot of questions on the design and timing of this,” she said. “People want to know what the right of way process is and whether their property will be affected. That’s why we are here. We want their input.”
Maninga said MoDOT plans to begin construction on the improvement project in May of 2014 and complete it later that year or early 2015.
The completion of the project will require up to a three-week closure of Route 47 with traffic detoured onto other state routes.