The reduction of Mark Twain Avenue from five to three lanes is one part of a proposal the Missouri Department of Transportation has made to the city of Hannibal. The change was given initial approval by the City Council during its Tuesday night meeting.
In 2015, MoDOT is planning to overlay a stretch of state-maintained pavement, extending from near where Grand Avenue meets Mark Twain Avenue, to approximately Fulton Avenue on the South Side. It was noted that MoDOT will not be rebuilding the roadway, but only upgrading particular elements. MoDOT’s upgrades will include making the corridor ADA accessible through the rebuilding of sidewalks. Driveway entrances would also be improved.
As part of the plan proposed by MoDOT, Mark Twain Avenue would be reduced from five lanes to three. Brian Haeffner of MoDOT told the Council that studies show that traffic volume on Mark Twain Avenue has declined.
The driving lane space surrendered would be utilized to make bike routes along both sides of the road, create green space on the north and south sides of the avenue, and expand the 5-foot sidewalk on the south side of the road to a 10-foot to 14-foot multi-use path.
“While the reduction of five lanes to three concerns me, I believe the aesthetic advantage outweighs the lane reduction,” wrote City Manager Jeff LaGarce in a memo to the Council.
Speaking in behalf of the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting was Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Knickerbocker.
“It’s more than a street project,” he said. “I think it’s a great idea.”
Knickerbocker said it would enhance tourism as visitors exiting I-72 onto Mark Twain Avenue would find themselves driving toward downtown on a tree-lined roadway. The councilman also noted the possibility of incorporating the bike lanes into the overall biking loop the Parks & Recreation Department has been creating.
As for the cost, MoDOT would be responsible for the overlay expense, which would include the ADA modifications and driveway entrances. The cost of adding the new lighting, landscaping and multi-use trail would fall to the city.
LaGarce noted that state funding allocated for transportation projects in Hannibal over the next two years could be utilized to help pay for the local share of the upgrades. Similar funds were used to pay for the local portion of the recent U.S. 61/Pleasant Street/West Ely Road upgrades.
“We may possibly afford these upgrades, or a goodly amount of them, without out-of-pocket expense,” wrote LaGarce.
With the Council’s favorable response, MoDOT will now put pencil to paper and come up with a cost estimate for the overall project, plus provide the city with an upgrade estimate.