Funds to improve a county road in the Mill Creek area, south of Newburg, would decrease erosion issues and increase access to recreation areas.

Funds to improve a county road in the Mill Creek area, south of Newburg, would decrease erosion issues and increase access to recreation areas.
The Phelps County Commission is applying for federal funds to improve County Road 7550, also known as Mill Creek Road, between State Routes P and AA.
The county estimates that the total cost for materials and to hire a contractor to do the improvement work on the 3.8-mile road is $128,636.60. That includes chip-and-seal as well as subgrade materials and drainage pipes and assumes the improved road would be 18 feet wide.
The county would pay 20 percent of that cost, or $25,727.32. The county's share cannot be in-kind services.
Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp said earlier this month that if the grant is approved, county officials would take a look at the county budget to see if a 20 percent match could be feasible.
If the grant is approved, the county's share would have to come out of the road department's gravel and culvert budget, which is already over its allocated amount because of materials needed for flood recovery work.
The application, prepared by the Meramec Regional Planning Commission, is requesting funds through the Federal Lands Access Program.
The road is one of the main access points to the Mill Creek recreation area, Bohigian Conservation Area and the Mark Twain National Forest.
According to a traffic count taken on the road in late September, there were 87 vehicles that used the road in one week.
The road, which is primarily a gravel road that runs alongside Mill Creek, runs between the creek and fairly steep bluffs at certain points. Some areas have been chipped and sealed in the past, but county officials say those areas are deteriorating.
The application noted that erosion from stormwater is an ongoing maintenance issue for the county's road and bridge department. Additionally, the road surface is rutted in several areas due to vehicles driving across the road which turns soft after rains. Road edges also experience rutting when vehicles move over to make room for oncoming vehicles or pedestrians.
County road crews place gravel along the road surface to repair any damage.
The application states, "By upgrading the road surface to a chip-and-seal, the county is expecting to decrease the erosion issues it faces with the gravel surface. Access to the national forest will be improved for visitors and sedimentation in Mill Creek will be reduced. The significant amount of dust created during dry weather will also be reduced."
If the funds are approved, county officials would like to see the project completed in about six weeks between June and August of 2014.
Approximately $3 million is available to Missouri through the Federal Lands Access Program, which can help fund improvements to transportation facilities that provide access to, are adjacent to or are located within federal lands.
The funds will be awarded to projects that have an emphasis on high-use recreation sites and economic generators.
Applications will be scored through the end of November. Commissioners could find out if their request is approved by December.