The Linn Board of Aldermen gave Mayor Dwight Massey the go-ahead Monday to explore a potential project with the Missouri Department of Transportation to repair and widen the portion of U.S. 50 running through the city.
Massey told the board the current state of the proposal involves expanding the width of the more than 8,000 linear feet of highway from 20 feet to 26 feet, making each lane 12 feet with an extra 2 feet on the sides. As of now, the project would involve Linn's share of the cost being approximately $114,000, plus another $38,000 the city already paid for repairs to the highway's shoulders.
Linn had already budgeted $100,000 for a project this year. Because the project likely would not be able to start until next fall, Massey added, the city could wait until it has to create its next budget in May to add the extra $14,000 if necessary.
"I think long-term, for this region, making Highway 50 a more solid highway — widening it, making it safer — we can't beat it," Massey said. "We're trying to market this town, we want more people here, more businesses, more residents — as every town does."
Linn is the owner of the portion of U.S. 50 going through the city, but MoDOT signed a maintenance agreement in 1959 to care for the 20-foot road. The city is still responsible for the shoulders.
Massey said the project would permanently fix the maintenance issues that have plagued the highway for the past few years.
In 2016, MoDOT was putting an overlay on the road and Linn offered to pay additional funds to have the shoulders repaired at the same time. Unfortunately, Massey said, a stripe was incorrectly added to each lane at the 12-foot mark — past the concrete spanning 10 feet underneath the asphalt.
The contractor doing the work also used the curbs on each side of the highway as a guide to the center, which is not always the center of the underlying concrete, Massey added.
The city believes the stripe caused people to drive on the asphalt not over the concrete, quickly causing the shoulder on the south side of the road to deteriorate. Massey said MoDOT realized the mistake and moved the stripes north, which caused the north side to break down.
Massey said by extending the underlying concrete and actually making the lanes 12 feet wide, the problem would be fixed rather than simply patched. The highway would also be safer and better able to handle heavy vehicles, he added.
"I don't want to see us get a year or two down the road and the sides fail again, and then it's 100 percent our responsibility," Massey said. "Because right now, MoDOT is trying to work with us to come up with a solution to partner to fix (U.S. 50), not just patch it, but fix it."
Massey said at first, MoDOT came to the city with a plan to repair the road for $55,000, but then realized the work would be more extensive and costly. At one point, the proposed costs went up to $477,000, with Linn's portion being approximately $200,000, which Massey said the city would not be able to afford.
Then the idea to add concrete on one side of the highway and not both was proposed, knocking the price down. MoDOT further decreased the portion the city would pay to $114,000, Massey added, by offering to honor one of the original proposed costs.