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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Local officials push regional projects

  • During Tuesday's meeting of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission at Rolla City Hall, three local officials talked about regional transportation projects they would like to see come to fruition.
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  • During Tuesday's meeting of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission at Rolla City Hall, three local officials talked about regional transportation projects they would like to see come to fruition.
    While laying out their priorities, the three local speakers — Rolla Mayor Bill Jenks III, Phelps County Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp and Bonnie Prigge, Meramec Regional Planning Commissioner (MRPC) executive director, complimented the commission and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) on past collaborative projects.
    Jenks, Verkamp and Prigge were each given about 10 minutes to give a presentation to the state commissioners.
    During Jenks' talk, he highlighted the future Rolla West project and a future extension of Highway 72 to Kingshighway as well as expanding U.S. Route 63 North to four or five lanes.
    He told commissioners congestion on Route 63 was so bad recently that vehicles were backed up along the highway from Interstate 44 to 14th Street. Jenks said a cost-share agreement between the City of Rolla and MoDOT could be used as in past collaborative projects.
    Jenks also talked about improvements at the Rolla National Airport in Vichy. He said that something needs to be done for runway No. 4 near Route 63 and suggested three options — lower Route 63, move Route 63 to the southwest of its current location or lengthen the opposite end of the runway.
    Jenks also said that runway No. 1836, which is currently closed, should remain closed.
    The mayor also highlighted business opportunities at the airport, such as the Brewer Science expansion.
    During Verkamp's time, he talked about working with MoDOT Area Engineer Preston Kramer on a new north outer road connecting Highway V and Route 63 north of I-44.
    Verkamp complimented the commission and MoDOT and said that the people of Missouri have "great confidence and trust" in the department.
    He said when it comes time to find a revenue remedy to help fund transportation, "you'll find many citizens will take well to a well-thought-out plan."
    Prigge began her presentation, noting that in the eight-county Meramec region that MRPC covers, there are about 2,200 miles of state highways and roads, and many of them are curvy.
    She talked about local representatives from the eight counties on the MRPC Transportation Advisory Committee, who help prioritize regional transportation needs.
    The top two priorities currently for the region are improvements to U.S. Route 50 in Gasconade and Osage counties and Route 63 in Phelps, Maries and Osage counties. State Highways 19 in Crawford County and Highway 8 from Steelville to Potosi were other priorities that Prigge mentioned.
    The commissioners complimented the City of Rolla, Phelps County and MRPC for their efforts and partnership.
    Monday evening, when the state commissioners arrived in the area, local officials held a reception for them at the Public House Brewing Company in downtown Rolla.

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