A section of Zion Hill Road (County Road 3410) south of St. James will get a new surface since it’s expected to be used a local detour around a bridge closure on Route 8 next summer.

A section of Zion Hill Road (County Road 3410) south of St. James will get a new surface since it’s expected to be used a local detour around a bridge closure on Route 8 next summer.
On Aug. 15, the Phelps County Commission signed off on an agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for the county road project.
The work calls the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to take over and put a new surface, likely using hot-mix asphalt, on the county road between State Routes BB and F, a section totaling less than 3 miles, during the bridge closure.
In the summer of 2014, construction is expected to begin on replacing the Route 8 bridge over the Dry Fork Creek for 0.07 miles south of St. James.
The project was among others that was approved in the 2014-18 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) by the state highways commission in July during its meeting in Rolla.
The total estimated cost of the Route 8 bridge project is $1,597,000 and a contract for this work is expected to be awarded in the spring of 2014.
The agreement states that the county must be notified two weeks before work begins on Zion Hill Road.
After the Route 8 project is complete, the county will take back over maintenance of the improved Zion Hill Road.
After the commission signed the agreement, it was sent to MoDOT.

Improving access to federal lands
In other county road related business, the commission received notice that it can apply for funds through the Federal Lands Access Program through Oct. 15.
Approximately $3 million is available to Missouri through this program, which can help fund improvements to transportation facilities that provide access to, are adjacent to or are located within federal lands, such as Mark Twain National Forest in Phelps County.
The funds are awarded with an emphasis on high-use recreation sites and economic generators. There is a minimum 20 percent non-federal match required.
Applications will be scored through the end of November and the announcement that funds have been awarded would come in December.
During the commission’s Aug. 15 meeting, commissioners mentioned applying for funds to improve roads in the Mill Creek area. No application has been made by the county yet.

Other business
• At the commission’s Aug. 6 meeting, a motion was approved to set the speed limit on County Road 1000, northwest of St. James, to a maximum of 35 mph.
• Also at the Aug. 6 meeting, Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp was informed by Rodney Christianson, of the U.S. Corps of Engineers of Warsaw, that if no fill is placed in Little Beaver Creek during a bridge repair on County Road 7050, west of Rolla, then the county will be allowed to construct a new crossing with no need for permits.
•The commission informed County Road Superintendent Walter Snelson Aug. 8 that according to County Counselor John Beger,  because maintenance was performed on a portion of County Road 5310, which leads to a residence of Keith Davis, the road is likely a county road.
A request by Davis for the county to maintain his road was tabled after county officials were unsure if the section of road is considered a county road or a private road due to discrepancies in the county’s past records.
Davis thanked the commission for their work at the Aug. 13 meeting.
•During the Aug. 6 county commission meeting, Gary Galecki, a professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology, spoke the commission about the possible use of railcars to construct bridges.
Galecki noted that an engineering and cost study would need to be done to determine the feasibility of using railcars for bridges. He suggested the commission contact university personnel to see if a senior engineering class would be interested in doing the necessary research as a class project.
The commission had previously discussing using railcars on a new bridge on County Road 7050 after an existing bridge there failed last month.