For the second year in a row, construction of an expressway around Hannibal, was not listed as one of Marion County's top five transportation projects. But that doesn't mean the proposed stretch isn't a regional priority.

For the second year in a row, construction of an expressway around Hannibal, was not listed as one of Marion County’s top five transportation projects. But that doesn’t mean the proposed stretch isn’t a regional priority.

Each year the eight counties served by the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments - Audrain, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Pike, Ralls, Randolph and Shelby – are asked to submit a list of their top five transportation priorities. Those priorities are then ranked by the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), which consists of two members – a county commissioner and a private citizen - from each of those counties. Once the TAC has completed its work the region’s prioritized list is submitted to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The Marion County Commission, which had been for years including the expressway as one of its priorities, dropped the project in 2015 after the Hannibal City Council voted 5-2 last February to not issue a letter of support for the expressway. A potential loss of revenue along the U.S. 61 corridor through Hannibal was cited by the Council as its reason for not supporting the project last year.

“It (expressway) will kill our main corridor,” said Mayor Roy Hark during the January 2015 expressway discussion. “If we lose that revenue off of (U.S.) 61 we’ll be in bad shape.”

While Marion County removed the expressway from its 2015 list, it nonetheless appeared on the “wish list” submitted by the Ralls County Commission.

Although not viewed as a “must” at Hannibal City Hall, the expressway is viewed as a major regional priority. In 2015 it tied for fourth place on the overall regional ranking list, tying with another Ralls County priority – improvements along Highway 19 at Mark Twain High School near Center.

While missing from Marion County’s 2016 priority list, Lyndon Bode, the county’s presiding commissioner, reported during the Commission’s Feb. 16 meeting that a member of the Ralls County Commission had told him that it was very likely that group would still list the expressway as one of its top five needs.

Even though the expressway is likely to remain on this year’s region’s priority list, its construction is not imminent, according to Kevin James, MoDOT’s assistant district engineer in Northeast Missouri.

“MoDOT does not have any plans to begin work on the Hannibal Expressway in the short-term,” James told the Courier-Post earlier this month.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com