The Missouri Department of Transportation’s proposal to reduce Hannibal’s Mark Twain Avenue from five lanes down to three is not written in stone.
George Walley, executive director of the Northeast Missouri Economic Development Council, reported Wednesday morning that he heard “several interesting ideas” regarding the thoroughfare during what he described as an “initial discussion session” concerning the project that MoDOT hosted in late September.
Jeff LaGarce, Hannibal city manager, added that some ideas being floated by MoDOT have the roadway only being reduced to four lanes.
The concept of changing the road was made public in August, when the City Council gave the proposal its initial approval.
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 will also be improved.
As part of the plan proposed by MoDOT, Mark Twain Avenue would be reduced. 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.
“The bike trail would be popular because we have a lot of bike enthusiasts,” said Mayor Roy Hark on Wednesday morning.
Walley noted that the proposed green-space changes would create a “welcoming element” to those visiting the downtown area.
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.
Without expressing support or opposition to the proposed work, Tom Boland, president of local economic development council, said he found himself wondering, given MoDOT’s limited amount of money with which to undertake highway improvements, “don’t they have nothing more important than this?”