New Greenways proposal pursued by Monett City Council

Monday, April 6, 2009
One of the topics currently being debated by the Monett City Council is what to do about pedestrians and bicyclists trying to get south on Highway 37 once the Central Avenue railroad crossing is closed. The above view, looking south on Highway 37 past the Highway 60 intersection, shows the path a proposed Greenways Trail might take. The path would run along the east edge of the bridge, shown at left, cross Highway 60 and enter the park (left) near where the highway at rear cuts to the right. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]

A chance at getting unexpected federal funds has prompted the Monett City Council to pursue a new link to the city's Greenways Trail network.

Last week the Monett City Council approved seeking grant money for a new phase of the city sidewalks that offers an alternative to the Central Avenue pedestrian crossing issue.

City Administrator Dennis Pyle told council members that an additional appropriation of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the Stimulus Bill, in transportation enhancement money. The addition will bring $646,800 more to the Missouri Department of Transportation's District Seven, which includes Monett.

Several restrictions were made to how the money can be used, Pyle explained. Any project awarded money has to be under construction by January 5, 2010. Usually transportation enhancement funds require a 20 percent match, but not this time.

Thirdly, past rules have also been waived over how much money can go into a single project. This time, one recipient could receive all the money.

Applications were due by April 3. A special city council meeting was called to consider a proposal developed by engineer Kevin Sprenkle, who also prepared the application.

Sprenkle said the Greenways Trail in its present form provides a loop of sidewalks for pedestrians and bicyclers that takes a route around town but outside of the center city. He proposed another section that would run through the center of town, connecting sections at two strategic points.

On the east end, the new trail connection would hook up with the old trail at Ninth and East Broadway. The old trail at that location runs north up Ninth Street and east to the Centennial Overpass, where it heads south over the bridge.

The new route would run on the north side of Broadway through the downtown business district to the Chamber of Commerce office at Second Street, using existing sidewalks. At that point, the trail would cross to the south side of Broadway and proceed west to the Highway 37 viaduct bridge on what is otherwise known as Lincoln Street.

Sprenkle said the trail would then run south over the viaduct on the east side of the bridge. Concrete barriers similar to those on the new Highway 60 bridge would be put in place to separate pedestrians and bicyclists from traffic.

The trail would proceed over the Clear Creek bridge to Highway 60, then head south along Highway 37 on the edge of city park property. A pedestrian push button signal would be installed at the junction of Highways 37 and 60 to accommodate trail users at the busy intersection.

The trail would enter South Park near the park lake, tying in with the new YMCA property and the existing Greenways Trail.

Cost to the city would be minimal, Sprenkle explained due to the use of pre-existing sidewalks on Broadway. The only changes would be the addition of textured rubber strips over the curb cuts, called truncated domes, that have been placed on the final stretch along Eisenhower. The textured pathway is required under standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the engineer said.

The entire project would cost $230,9766. The city's application seeks $194,776 in federal funds. The $36,200 balance would be donated by the city in equipment use and labor.

Sprenkle told council members funding would be "extremely competitive." Initially the proposal called for getting all the funding from federal dollars. After listening to the presentation, council members decided to bear some of the cost to make the proposal more attractive to evaluators.

The proposal comes at the same time the city is facing the imminent closure of the Central Avenue railroad crossing. No decision has yet been made on whether to place a pedestrian crossing at Central or close the street entirely.

Pyle told The Times the decision on funding another section of Greenways Trail will take a number of weeks, well after Central will have to be closed under the terms that got money to build the Eisenhower railroad bridge. He suspected a final decision on the final shape of the Central crossing will not be made until after the verdict on grant funding is made.

One of the options suggested instead of a pedestrian crossing, which brings fencing issues with it, would be to route pedestrians and bicyclists over the Highway 37 viaduct, provided that some additional safety precautions could be installed.

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