The proposed Hannibal Expressway, which would provide a route around the city for through traffic on U.S. 61, was a priority cited time again during Monday’s Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Transportation meeting at Arch United Methodist Church.
Dick Rupp, speaking in behalf of the Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce’s transportation committee, noted that the only remaining stoplights on Saints Avenue are in Hannibal.
“This is a must before traffic starts passing our region entirely,” said Rupp, regarding the expressway.
Also banging the drum in behalf of the expressway were Tom Boland of Hannibal and Tom Oakley of Quincy, Ill.
“It’s absolutely necessary as soon as possible, even though it’s a hell of a cost,” said Boland, adding that local funding shouldn’t be expected as was provided for the U.S. 36 expansion.
Oakley said the U.S. 61 stoplights through Hannibal “interfere with a national corridor.”
David Cheek of the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments also cited the expressway, along with expansion of U.S. 54 between Mexico and Louisiana, and replacement of the Champ Clark Bridge in Louisiana as regional priorities.
The expressway was not the only transportation issue brought up by local voices. Rupp cited the need for a 600-foot extension to Hannibal Regional Airport’s runway. City Manager Jeff LaGarce cited continued interest in bringing Amtrak to Hannibal.
Amtrak passengers are also of interest to JoAnne Smiley, mayor of Clarksville. She also proposed better utilization of the river.
The creation of a river port in Clarksville was a suggestion of Kristen Burkemper, from the Lincoln County Services Port Authority, who said not taking full advantage of the Mississippi a “huge blunder.”
In Palmyra, safety is a major concern of Mayor Loren Graham and Police Chief Eddie Bogue. Graham cited the need to safely funnel traffic from west of U.S. 61 to a retail area east of the highway. Bogue spoke about the hazards that highway crossovers represent.
An assortment of funding options were presented during the 2 1/2-hour meeting.
While some backed the idea of a sales tax to generate revenue for transportation, LaGarce said such a proposal “could be a problem in Hannibal” and other border communities. Graham termed interest in an additional sales tax in Palmyra as “luke warm.”
Time and again the committee heard a negative reaction to the idea of turning I-70 into a toll road, unless such fees were also collected elsewhere in the state.
Boland raised the possibility of using bonds to generate transportation revenue.
Bogue proposed designating for transportation a portion of the fees generated through the courts by traffic violators. He also noted that Missouri gives up $16 million a year in federal revenue because it does not have seat-belt violations as a primary offense.
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