At an informal workshop last week, the consensus of the Rolla City Council seemed to be in favor of staff moving forward with traffic studies, focus groups and talks with community partners about seeing through the city's transportation vision.
At an informal workshop last week, the consensus of the Rolla City Council seemed to be in favor of staff moving forward with traffic studies, focus groups and talks with community partners about seeing through the city’s transportation vision.
City Administrator John Butz talked about transportation projects are included the city’s vision at the workshop held July 17 at Rolla City Hall and asked for the council’s feedback.
Among the projects, which he noted have been talked about for years, include a U.S. Highway 63 bypass around Rolla, an extension of State Highway 72 west to Interstate 44, transportation infrastructure needed for development opportunities in the Rolla West area, relieving congestion on Kingshighway and how a transportation development district (TDD) could help fund these projects.
Mayor Lou Magdits noted that with the UTW Rolla Development LLC company looking at potential development of a shopping center in the Rolla West area, most of the shoppers will travel to the area through the city, with a few off I-44.
Magdits said if people think traffic congestion is bad now, they should think about what it would be like with a potential shopping area.
No formal vote was taken, but council members seemed to give city staff the OK to take the next steps, which wouldn’t necessarily involve spending money, Magdits said.
The next steps, Butz said, would include start working with engineers on traffic studies, forming focus groups and holding meetings with Missouri University of Science and Technology and Phelps County Regional Medical Center representatives to see how the city’s vision works with their future plans.
“There’s a lot happening on that side of town and it’s all going to come through town to get there,” Magdits said.
As part of part of the university’s master plan, S&T officials are looking at making a new main entrance off of Highway 63 near Miner Circle. The hospital also has a campaign to build a new cancer center.
“I think there’s an opportunity for us to engage in much more of a regional solution using a transportation development district, which is one option — not the only option but it’s a way of generating sales and some taxes to support some major transportation issues.”
When asked how large of district is being considered, Butz said the boundaries haven’t really been discussed yet, but it would include “anybody who benefits from the improvements.” Butz mentioned one possibility would be from the area near Kohl’s and Lowe’s south to the Walmart SuperCenter area and the area to the west.
Butz said that transportation issues come up in the city’s surveys conducted every two years, and Highways 63 and 72 are where residents complain about congestion.
Fourth Ward Councilman Steve Bowles said Kingshighway can’t handle any more traffic.
Councilman Don Morris, also of the 4th Ward, said since he figures implementation of the long-term vision would likely be done in segments, he asked what the first segment would be.
Butz said engineers would tell the city that answer, but he said what city officials are thinking is that the completing the Highway 72 extension first would provide relief so truck traffic could get out to I-44 quicker without using Highway 63 North.