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City taking small strides toward Monroe Street corridor changes

City taking small strides toward Monroe Street corridor changes

July 13th, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

FILE: After carefully monitoring movement of the retaining wall on the west side of the 600 block of Monroe Street, city staff decided it would be safer to have it removed. A crew from Sam Gaines Construction brought in heavy equipment last month to take care of the leaning wall. City staff plans to approach the Cole County Commission within the next month about partnering on the engineering cost for improving Monroe Street between U.S. 50 and Woodlawn Avenue.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

Jefferson City is taking another small step toward bettering the Monroe Street corridor.

City staff plans to approach the Cole County Commission within the next month about partnering on the $3 million Monroe Street corridor project. Changes to that corridor, between U.S. 50 and Woodlawn Avenue, include allowing two-way traffic, repairing the retaining wall, fixing old stormwater infrastructure, and replacing the traffic signal at the intersection of Monroe and Dunklin streets.

The Jefferson City Public Works and Planning Committee began discussing Monroe Street improvements last December so the corridor would align with the Historic Southside/Old Munichburg District and Neighborhood Plan, which calls for Monroe Street to allow two-way traffic and parking. Capital Region Medical Center proposed the plan, and the city adopted it last year.

"This particular project in regards to infrastructure in the plan is one of the top priorities, creating that two-way passage and addressing some of the safety concerns by having two-way traffic and helping Capital Region with traffic flow," CRMC President Gaspare Calvaruso told the Public Works and Planning Committee on Thursday.

The committee tabled project discussions in December, but city staff returned it to the committee in June due to the retaining wall in the 600 block of Monroe Street shifting and creating a potential safety hazard. Contractor Sam Gaines Construction Company removed the retaining wall last month after it continued to shift and lean over the sidewalk by more than 2.5 feet.

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Included in the $3 million price tag is the estimated $300,000 in design cost, City Engineer David Bange said. He noted the project cost currently is not included in any sales tax funds.

While "we understand the financial restraint and the decisions that need to be made by the council," Calvaruso said, he requested the Monroe Street corridor be a priority when the funds become available.

Ward 2 Councilman Rick Mihalevich agreed, suggesting the committee and Jefferson City Council "go ahead and move forward on this and make it a priority."

Along with approaching Cole County about the partnership, Mihalevich suggested the $300,000 come from the city's Sales Tax G and the remaining engineering cost be included in the upcoming Sales Tax H. Voters decide which projects they want some of the sales tax dollars to go toward.

City Administrator Steve Crowell suggested the City Council look at and prioritize all other city projects before deciding the funding source for the Monroe Street corridor project.

In other business Thursday, several residents from the Schellridge neighborhood spoke against permanently removing a traffic light at the intersection of Jaycee and Industrial drives. City staff had to remove the light last month after a semi-truck struck it.

The city has been struggling to keep the poles holding the light from sinking and causing the light to hang too low, Jefferson City Operation Division Director Britt Smith said.

Re-installing the traffic light, Smith said, would cost $200,000-$250,000. The price tag is high because the light is near the railroad tracks and would have to be brought up to code, he noted.

A recent traffic study of the intersection notes there is plenty of sight distance, along with minimal delay and queue length during morning peak hours. The intersection also did not meet the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices' criteria for a traffic light installation, Bange added.

Residents from the neighborhood and surrounding area disagreed, as that intersection experiences traffic from school, residential neighborhoods and trucks from nearby companies. They worry permanently removing the traffic signal would create an unsafe environment and urged city staff to redo its traffic study to take into account school traffic.

City staff said they would redo the traffic study when school resumes and explore other options besides a signalized intersection. They plan to present their new findings to the committee in October.