Priorities have a way of shifting. One example is Shinn Lane, a cut through between U.S. 36 and Highway MM in western Hannibal, which for a time was a priority project for the city, then wasn’t, and now is again.

Priorities have a way of shifting. One example is Shinn Lane, a cut through between U.S. 36 and Highway MM in western Hannibal, which for a time was a priority project for the city, then wasn’t, and now is again.

In April 2008, Hannibal voters approved a $5 million revenue bond proposal for street projects. Included among the projects slated for completion was the reconstruction of Shinn Lane. However, in May 2009 the City Council decided to put the Shinn Lane work on hold and instead use those funds on other street maintenance projects.

Spring forward to January 2014. U.S. 36 is now a heavily traveled four-lane highway, Moberly Area Community College has opened its new building near the intersection of Highway MM and Shinn Lane, the development of an industrial park adjacent to both roads is gaining momentum, and more services than ever are being provided by the nearby clinic and hospital. Consequently the volume of traffic on Shinn Lane is far greater now than it was six years ago.

What was described by Heath Hall, director of operations for the Board of Public Works, as a “first step” toward upgrading Shinn Lane was taken by the BPW Board at its December meeting when it approved a $34,000 engineering contact with Klingner & Associates. One facet of the contract includes conducting a traffic study on Shinn Lane.

“Results of the traffic study will help determine the nature of the future road specifications such as the number of lanes, etc.,” said Hannibal City Manager Jeff LaGarce, noting that the study won’t be undertaken immediately. “The traffic study had to await the beginning of the school year for the new MACC facility, but we also want to await warm weather to more-accurately reflect traffic flows when Hannibal has more tourists and out-of-town visitors present. That’s a more accurate reflection of our traffic flows (during) eight to nine months of any typical year.”

Funding upgrades

The funding of Shinn Lane upgrades will likely run over $1 million.

“We have no hard cost estimate, but we anticipate approximately $1.2 to $1.5 million to reconstruct Shinn Lane,” said LaGarce.

The Missouri Department of Transportation, the city of Hannibal and Marion County all own a portion of Shinn Lane. According to Brian Haeffner of MoDOT, the state “owns the portion of Shinn Lane through the interchange with U.S. 36, to just south of the outer road intersection.” During the January meeting of the Northeast Economic Development Council, LaGarce said the city is responsible for “two-thirds” of the remainder of Shinn Lane, with the remaining “one-third” being owned by Marion County.

The city has stated publicly that it cannot afford any capital street improvements until after the end of 2017, when its current bond issue payments end. However, funds through a federal program might be available.

Each year Hannibal receives $67,232.27 in federal funds from MoDOT as part of the Surface Transportation Program (STP) Small-Urban program, which is part of the federal transportation bill.

The current transportation bill expires on Sept. 31.

“We can't predict what future actions Congress may take,” said Haeffner. “Congress could pass a new bill, could use continuing resolutions to continue funding the transportation programs, or take some other unforeseen action. If a new transportation bill is passed that includes the STP Small-Urban program, MoDOT would make those funds available to the city.”

According to Haeffner, Hannibal has almost $202,000 in STP Small-Urban funds available.

“Those funds have accumulated over the past three years and are available to be spent on any eligible project,” he said.

But at this point, Shinn Lane is not eligible for STP Small-Urban funds.

“For a project to be eligible, it must be on a roadway with a functional classification of ‘urban collector’ or higher. Shinn Lane is currently functionally classified as a ‘local’ road,” said Haeffner. “Changing the classification of Shinn Lane will require the city making a request to MoDOT, with data supporting the need for a change in classification. We will submit the request for approval to the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration). FHWA makes the determination if the classification is appropriate, based primarily on the use of the roadway, but other factors are weighed as well.“

Marion County’s ability to share the cost of a Shinn Lane upgrade will more than likely hinge on the passage of Proposition R this spring.

“The city has come and talked to us about Shinn Lane, if there could be some kind of cost sharing in the future, because a part of Shinn Lane is county,” said Lyndon Bode, presiding commissioner. “At this point we don’t have any funds to put in to try and help match something. This (Proposition R) could provide some revenue. There’s the potential for a lot of good things to happen if the voters approve this.”

The one-fourth of 1 percent sales tax proposal, which if approved would generate “roughly $900,000 a year,” goes before Marion County voters on April 8.