MoDOT pledges $6.4 million to Scott Boulevard Improvement Project

Sunday, June 29, 2008 | 5:33 p.m. CDT; updated 5:05 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — A financial boost from the state has the potential to speed up the timeline for the Scott Boulevard Improvement Project.

Plans for the first phase of construction were drawn up without knowing how much funding would come from the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The $6.4 million pledge from MoDOT is expected to help fund this phase — widening Scott Boulevard from Rollins Road south to Brookview Terrace. City Manager Bill Watkins hopes to immediately start improvements slated for the next phase, which was expected to begin construction in 2012. The second phase widens Scott Boulevard from the MKT Trail to Vawter School Road and makes improvements to the intersection at Vawter School Road.

“We were able to get a little more funding from MoDOT than we expected,” Watkins said. “Depending on the bids that come in, we’ll see what we have left and what we can do with it.”

The bidding process will begin this fall, wrapping up in either November or December, Watkins said.

Any changes to the current plan would be made available for public comment before becoming final.

The Vawter School Road intersection is a problem right now, according to Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade, who represents residents along the east side of Scott Boulevard. He said the intersection is known for accidents.

The first phase, which covers 10,000 linear feet, is now estimated to cost $12.4 million, according to recent estimates by the Public Works Department. The plan widens Scott Boulevard to four lanes and includes a center median, sidewalks on both sides of the road and bicycle lanes. Also included are traffic signals and pedestrian crossings at the Chapel Hill Road and Rollins Road intersections. When presented at a city council meeting in May, the estimated cost was $11.2 million.

“Final construction costs have gone up,” Public Works Department spokesperson Jill Stedem said. “Gas prices, concrete, steel costs — all play into construction — have risen dramatically in the last few months.”

Right now, city officials are pursuing right-of-way and examining how and where to relocate utilities. Bidding will start at the end of the summer, utility relocation should be done this winter and ground-breaking on the road should happen next spring.

In addition to the MoDOT money, the federal government has earmarked $3.5 million for the project. The city and county agreed to split costs according to who has jurisdiction over the land along each linear foot of roadway.

The city’s portion of the cost would be covered almost exclusively by its capital improvements sales tax. When voters agreed to extend the tax in 2005, all three phases of the Scott Boulevard reconstruction were included in a list of priority projects. The third phase extends the project from Vawter School Road to Route KK.

Definite plans for the project are still in the works. By planning now, Watkins said, the city can make improvements as funds become available.

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