It was thought that securing the necessary local funding for proposed upgrades to Hannibal’s Mark Twain Avenue would be the biggest hurdle facing proponents of the work.

It was thought that securing the necessary local funding for proposed upgrades to Hannibal’s Mark Twain Avenue would be the biggest hurdle facing proponents of the work. On Tuesday, City Manager Jeff LaGarce revealed another obstacle – right-of-way ownership along the Avenue.

LaGarce advised both Board of Public Works Board and City Council members that the Missouri Department of Transportation has learned it does not own all the right-of-way along the five-lane thoroughfare. The state owns from the center line south, to the hillside. The right-of-way north of the center line belongs to the city.

“It makes things more complicated,” said LaGarce, noting that MoDOT cannot be repaving property it does not own.

There was little sentiment Tuesday night for the city to take ownership of MoDOT’s portion of the right-of-way. Councilman James Hark expressed reservations about the city’s lack of equipment adequate to clear the roadway should a major landslide occur.

Leon Wallace, street superintendent, was not enthusiastic about taking on the winter maintenance of Mark Twain Avenue.

“We have trouble keeping the materials we need to maintain what we have now,” he said.

LaGarce plans to meet with Paula Gough, MoDOT’s Northeast District engineer, to look for possible solutions.

Funding shortfall 

While the city of Hannibal has expressed interest in proposed upgrades to Mark Twain Avenue, the major question was if it could come up with the almost half million dollars the improvements are expected to cost.

According to MoDOT estimates, the cost of overlaying parking lanes along Third Street is $35,000. The creation of a 10-foot “use path” will require about $110,000. The addition of decorative lighting will run in the neighborhood of $325,000.

The city plans to use funds from its 2015 regular overlay budget to pay for the overlay of the parking lanes, which is the city’s cost to bear and not MoDOT’s, according to LaGarce.

The city has decided to pass on adding the use path.

“With sidewalks aligning both sides of the road and separate bicycle routes on the pavement, sufficient pathways exist for both pedestrians and bicycles. But we may recommend a 6-foot sidewalk (rather than 5-foot),” wrote LaGarce in a memo, noting that money for the expanded sidewalks would come from the Park Fund.

The big hurdle is the funding for new lightning. While the city is prepared to commit $202,000 in STP-Small Urban Funding to the cause, that would still leave a $123,000 shortfall. LaGarce approached the Board of Public Works Board on Tuesday regarding its willingness to help fund the project.

“The Board has previously expressed interest in lighting street corridors. Like the Main Street Waterline Project in 2012, an opportunity may exist to make a key improvement at this particular location (as opposed to another) due to the timing of a big infrastructure upgrade,” wrote LaGarce.

There is also a Plan B that also would involve the BPW.

“The city cannot design or build new streets until revenue bonds are repaid on Dec. 31, 2017. While Shinn Lane’s upgrade is critical for the medical campus and community college, its also paramount for the business park now being designed,” explained LaGarce. “However, nothing can occur on Shinn Lane until 2018, at the earliest. If the city were to withhold $100,000 of STP-Small Urban Funding from the Mark Twain Avenue Project, this money could be used to design Shinn Lane in 2014. If this would occur, a funding gap of $223,000 would remain for Mark Twain Avenue. Recognizing this is BPW money, an opportunity does exist for Mark Twain Avenue to be completed and Shinn Lane to be designed if the Board is willing to fund a $223,000 difference for lighting. If not, the city will happily allocate all $202,000 to Mark Twain Avenue.”

The BPW Board approved supporting the project, but did not specify exactly how much money it will be contributing. Board members noted this could be an opportunity to lay a fiber optics conduit along Mark Twain Avenue, and possibly make water and sewer upgrades.

With the support of both the BPW Board and City Council, LaGarce plans to notify MoDOT so it can begin design on the project.