Deadline nears for road-project changes

Former alderman questions statement made by engineer


Green Park aldermen can request that changes be made to the design for Green Park Road’s reconstruction, but have little time to do so.

Engineer Tom Weis, whose engineering group designed the $2.4 million project to widen the road by two feet in each lane and lower its grading, said during an April 23 work session that 1,600 feet from Tesson Ferry Road to Mueller Road can be altered.

At the same time, because final approval from the Missouri Department of Transportation is due in August and the city has yet to ask Green Park Road residents to sign easements allowing construction crews on their property, Weis stressed the immediacy of the board’s decision. Failure to meet the August deadline would result in the city losing a federal grant funding 80 percent of the project.

“There are some timing issues as far as making sure this all can be accomplished so as not to jeopardize the grant,” Weis said to aldermen. “There is such thing as a one-time schedule change. We have not used it on this project yet. It’s not uncommon that those are used because of right-of-way instances and because of things that occur during a project that may be unforeseen. Easements that can’t get signed on time is a big one …

“What will take a long time, and we do have to have some final approvals done by this August, is the fact that (City Administrator) Diana Mize will be out trying to acquire easements that may be necessary, property acquisition that may be necessary, trading with county (Clydesdale) park. Those things take time. So we’ll have to very seriously discuss the timing and the fact that that might not be realistic to be accomplished by August. There’s quite a few properties here and then the whole acquisition of right of way. Easements are one thing, and then acquisition, right of way and trading property with the park, a lot of that is actually out of your control and my control.”

As planned, the road would be widened by two feet in each lane to make 12-foot lanes on each side and would stretch roughly 6,000 feet along Green Park Road from Tesson Ferry Road to Lin Valle Drive. Be-cause of alterations that would be made to homeowners’ property along the road, aldermen were presented in January with a petition of residents pledging they “will not approve the grading permit required to intrude upon my non-easement property” to construct sidewalks on the south side of Green Park Road. The petition was signed by 19 residents at 18 homes — 16 of which are on Green Park Road. Homeowners on nearby Mueller Road and Lisa Marie Court also signed the intent to deny permits.

However, Weis proposed a design last week that the six-foot-wide sidewalk would be moved to the less residential north side of Green Park Road.

Weis said he would like to put the road’s reconstruction out to bid in November and begin construction in March 2008.

Due to that construction, Green Park Road traffic would be limited to one lane in at least some sections of the road from March to December 2008.

Weis has said substantial grade changes would be made at the road’s intersections with Kohrs Lane, Mueller Road and Lisa Marie Court to improve sight-line visibility and provide better curb alignment. But besides looking at Green Park Road, Ward 1 Alderman Judy Betlach said she believes perhaps a better option of improving traffic flow would be to construct a connection from Lin Valle Drive to the Lindbergh Business Court.

“This is not the only solution,” Betlach said. “There are some other solutions that might address the extra traffic on the road, one of which may be the Yuma (Drive) connection. And also maybe reinvestigating the Lin Valle (Drive) connection so that there might be ways to siphon off some of the traffic and that this (the Green Park Road project) isn’t a total solution.”

The former site of Precision Prosthetics sits between Lin Valle Drive and the Lindbergh Business Court at the moment, and aldermen last week discussed the possibility of purchasing that property for the purpose of connecting those roads.

As for Green Park Road, resident Michael Broughton told aldermen he would prefer that they put the project on hold to further study its merits.

“There were a lot of people that considered this road project ill conceived from the start,” Broughton said. “I realize there’s federal money and a lot of other things tied up in this. But if we’re just spending money to have something that isn’t going to be much better or is going to make it worse, then let’s let this thing go for another two or three or four years, whatever it takes, to go back and redo the homework and get this thing done right rather than have somebody out trying to bird dog property owners to perhaps give up their property so we can have a road.”

But Green Park Road resident Fred Baumgarth said he is worried that if the city decides to delay or stop the project, aldermen would risk the chance of receiving any other federal grants in the future.

“What is this going to do as far as future applications are concerned?” he said. “If we just let this disappear or this grant disappear, the next time two or three or four years down the road, Green Park Road is in a lot worse state than it is now. And if we go back asking for a grant then, I think our chances of getting a grant then will be a lot less because we let this one go by the wayside.”

At the same time, Ward 2 Alderman Tim Thuston said he is more concerned about the extra traffic the project might bring than the city’s chances of acquiring more grant money in the future.

“I think we shouldn’t panic if we missed this opportunity,” Thuston said. “It’s not like we’re never going to have an opportunity to improve ourselves. I think we’ve got to look beyond just fixing Green Park Road and look at what fixing it is going to do us. If we’re going to lose everything we gain by improving the road by an increase in traffic without giving the opportunity for that traffic to be siphoned somewhere else, nothing is going to be gained.”

Besides the merits of the project itself, former Ward 2 Alderman Fred Hoehn questioned a statement by Weis that the city applied for the project on the basis of available grant funds.

“He (Weis) indicated that he knew how much money to ask for,” he said. “This plan was predicated apparently on how much money you could grab. It wasn’t predicated on consideration of is the job being done the right way? That, to me, was just an incredible statement. If that’s the game that’s being played, then we’re all in trouble.”