• Independence set to widen 35th Street to three lanes

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  • Independence is preparing for $3 million worth of improvements along 35th Street in a project that the public works director says will make a significant difference compared to the existing street.
    An overwhelming majority of the project expenses – 80 percent – will be paid through federal highway funds, with Independence street sales tax dollars making up the difference, Public Works Director John Powell said Monday.
    The Missouri Department of Transportation is now reviewing more than a dozen construction bids, and construction is slated to start this spring. Several utility companies, including Missouri Gas Energy and AT&T, will soon start their portion of the project, Powell said.
    The project, stretching from Crysler Avenue to Lynn Court, near the Mid-Continent Public Library South Independence Branch, includes the construction of a three-lane street; new curbs, sidewalks, drives and bicycle lanes; and utility and storm drainage improvements.
    “This will be a trial of putting on-street bicycle lanes on 35th Street, so the outside in each direction will be a dedicated bicycle lane,” Powell said.
    The eastern portion of the project, near the Unilever plant at 13000 E. 35th St. South, will be built with concrete pavement.
    “We’ve had regular problems with the asphalt getting irregular driving surfaces on it,” Powell said. “It’s been a high-maintenance location, so we’re going to go back in with concrete pavement at that location.”
    He said better traffic flow and safety are among the significant benefits anticipated because of the improvements.
    “The center turn lane provides safety in that cars can get into that turn lane and wait for a break in traffic to make the turn,” Powell said. “That will hopefully be something that the people that go into the side streets and driveways will appreciate.”
    Powell also outlined several other upcoming city projects, including the Bly Road bridge, the Spring Branch culvert and the Blue Mills/U.S. 24 improvements.
    The bridge is on Bly Road, between Missouri 78 and Bundschu Road. The project consists of removing the existing bridge and constructing a new one over Bundschu Creek, as well as reconstructing the street on both sides of the bridge. Both will be elevated to provide flood protection, Powell said.
    Water main replacement also will take place, and drainage channel improvements also will occur next to the bridge. Anticipated benefits of the project, Powell said, include improved traffic flow and safety; improved drainage; and utility protection.
    “This bridge has a 10-ton load limit rating on it, and there is some farm equipment that goes down Bly Road and occasionally some truck traffic that uses it, as well,” Powell said. “This will provide a better bridge for our community.”
    District 2 Council Member Curt Dougherty asked Powell if the bridge would be widened to account for future use. While the two lanes of new pavement will take place at this time, the bridge will be widened so it could be added onto in the future without completely redoing the bridge again, Powell said.
    Page 2 of 2 - With an estimated price tag of $1.9 million, most of the expenses will be covered through federal highway funds, Powell said, with local matching dollars coming from the city’s street sales tax.
    Bids are already back for the project, and MoDOT is reviewing them since federal funding is potentially available. The contract will come before the City Council for its consideration at a future meeting.
    Construction will begin on Feb. 25 for the culvert replacement under Missouri 78, east of Powell Road. The project will take about four months to complete and will require Missouri 78 to be closed for seven days.
    Anticipated benefits, Powell said, include an improved drainage system, in addition to addressing property owner requests within the nearby industrial park. The city’s storm water sales tax will provide funding for the $250,000 project.
    BLUE MILLS/U.S. 24
    The city is aiming to improve traffic flow at this intersection, Powell said, through traffic signal changes and turn lanes. With a cost of $300,000, the city’s street sales tax will fund the improvements.
    This year, Powell added, Public Works also would like to complete the design for the turn-lane improvements onto Blue Mills Road.
    In a traffic study, Olsson Associates recommended a change in the traffic signal timing at the intersection. Those changes are already in place and took effect with the help of MoDOT and the Operation Green Light initiative, which aims to reduce travel delays on highly congested routes.
    “We’ve seen some improvement on people on Blue Mills Road from being able to go through the intersection,” Powell said.

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