Two weeks after the Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Transportation visited Hannibal, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission will stage its monthly meeting in America’s Hometown.
The meeting is slated to begin at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 8, in the Roland Fine Arts Center at Hannibal-LaGrange University.
Staging some of its meetings at sites around the state fulfills a commission objective to be “visible,” according to Marisa Brown-Ellison, customer relations manager for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Northeast District.
“Not everybody wants to drive to Jefferson City for a commission meeting,” she said. “This way the public can see transportation decisions being made that impact the state of Missouri.”
The highway commissioners have been to Northeast Missouri before. In the past six years they have gone to Canton and Shelbina for meetings. In fact, the commission was slated to be in Hannibal for its June 2011 meeting, but decided to instead to convene in Jefferson City since that was when MoDOT’s new Bolder Five Year Direction plan was unveiled.
While MoDOT decided not to come last year, the invitation from the city and chamber of commerce was still extended. Representatives of both entities are pleased the commission is coming to Hannibal.
“It’s nice to have a state delegation coming into town. We’re very pleased to have them here,” said City Manager Jeff LaGarce, who is not scheduled to make any formal remarks in behalf of the city’s transportation wish list during the meeting. “It will be a good opportunity to let them take a look at what we’ve got and hear about some of our needs.”
“It’s great to have them here in the Northeast District and this part of the state,” said Dick Rupp, who will extend a formal welcome to the commissioners in behalf of the chamber’s transportation committee. “It will give them the opportunity to visit with people on our home turf.”
During the course of the anticipated 90-minute meeting, at least two presentations with ties to Northeast Missouri will be made. Tom Boland of Hannibal and Tom Oakley of Quincy, Ill., speaking in behalf of the Tri-State Development Summit, will make a pitch in behalf of a Hannibal Expressway. That roadway would allow through traffic on U.S. 61 to pass around Hannibal which would lessen congestion on McMaster’s Avenue (U.S. 61). The two men tag teamed on the same subject before the state’s blue ribbon committee.
A representative from Audrain County is scheduled to present a proposal in regard to U.S. 54, which would see it expanded from two to four lanes between Mexico and Louisiana.
According to Brown-Ellison, people will have a chance to sign up to address the commission on the day of the meeting.
Page 2 of 2 - A good public turnout for the meeting is anticipated.
“People in Northeast Missouri are pretty engaged about transportation,” said Brown-Ellison. “It would be nice to have a crowd of 100, but you never know. If it’s 110 (degrees) that day we may not have many.”
“I think we’ll have people from north-central Missouri into the northeast,” added Rupp. “I think we’ll hear a few things expressed that we did at the blue ribbon panel, such as that secondary roads need to be brought up to a better standard and even though great things have been done to some bridges on secondary roads, there are still bridges out there to work on.”