Property owners, as well as interested members of the public, gathered in the gymnasium of Rock Bridge Elementary School on Tuesday evening to view three different options for the extension of Gans Road.
The meeting, which was open-house style, allowed members of the public to ask the study team questions about the alignments and view display boards with topics addressing the project, such as the benefits of roundabouts. Attendees were also asked to fill out comment forms, which sought opinion about preferred alignments and other issues that need to be addressed.
"The response was very positive," said David Mink, director of Boone County Public Works, "and we had a good turnout and lots of interest."
One issue of public concern about the extension was the amount of commercial development that may follow the building of a major roadway.
Bartlett & West, the engineering firm hired to design the alignments, addressed this issue by limiting access points along the roadway. The two-lane road, median and roundabouts that create limited access may control commercial development by making it less attractive to prospective developers.
"There is nothing in the plan to exclude commercial development," project manager Bob Gilbert said, "but the access plan is limited."
Dustin Riechmann, a project engineer with Crawford, Bunte and Brammeier, a firm working with Bartlett & West to tackle the issue of traffic, said that the plan is unattractive to commercial developers because the median and roundabouts make it less convenient to add access.
The hilly topography may also deter commercial developers, Riechmann added. The topography, he said is "more accommodating of residential development."
Jan Weaver, president of Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, attended the meeting and recognized the concern of commercial development. She said she thinks the road design tries to minimize the attractiveness to commercial developers, as well as help with safety. The median is discouraging to commercial development, she said.
Henry and Laura Hager, who live along Missouri 163, attended the meeting and were pleased with the alignment proposals. They said the study group seemed to take great pains to carefully plan the extension.
"It looks reasonable and makes sense," Henry Hager said. "They really sorted it all through."
"The bike lanes are really great," Laura Hager added.
Regarding commercial development, the Hagers hope it will be sensible and a combination of commercial and residential development.
Two other area landowners, Alycia McGee and Penny Scarborough, went to the meeting to see the impact of the extension on their land. The proposed road will run behind their house, but both McGee and Scarborough like the plan, especially the limited access points the roundabouts offer. Because of these features, they think the land will not be attractive to commercial developers.
Presiding Boone County Commissioner Ken Pearson attended the meeting as well and was pleased with the plan because he felt the study team was very sensitive to the area, including the Karst topography and Clear Creek. He also said that he thought Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is far enough away from the roadway that it won't have an impact on it.
With the meeting completed, the next step for the study team is to review the public comments and based on the available information, select a preferred alignment.