Kentucky Avenue extension clears major hurdle

A recent meeting helped iron out most of the major engineering details on the proposed project to extend Kentucky Avenue a short distance to create a new entrance/exit into McDonald’s and QuikTrip. Representatives from the City of Platte City, Platte County, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the engineering company Shafer, Kline and Warren (SKW) met and solved the biggest issues associated with a difficult design. This development puts Platte City close to approaching the two businesses that hope to benefit from the alteration to seek right of way approval. A specific design was needed to move forward and keep the project on schedule. Now it’s up to QuikTrip and McDonald’s to decide if the result would be beneficial enough to allow work to proceed.

Contributed Photo This aerial photo shows the current traffic pattern in orange for most tractor trailers going from Highway 92 into QuikTrip’s parking lot. The new pink option should help truckers keep from creating congestion.

“The whole purpose of this is it’s an economic development project,” Gehrt said. “The whole purpose of Kentucky (extension) is to find a way to help existing local businesses grow, and if it doesn’t, if the design requirements, don’t help existing businesses grow, there’s no reason to do it.” Platte City contracted with SKW for survey, design and project engineering but would not recoup the fee of more than $100,000 if a formal agreement can not be reached. Gehrt still hopes to have a final proposal in place for the Platte City Board of Aldermen in the coming months with hopes of starting construction in the spring or early summer of 2015. This takes on added importance because the funds MoDOT have pledged to help fund the construction — about $338,000 of the total $638,000 budget — will be reallocated if not used in that time frame. Platte City will pay most of the remainder through budgeted funds and could possibly incur more cost if the complicated project goes over budget. The super-elevation of Highway 92 at the current three-way intersection, which contains a large degree of banking, created a unique problem in trying to make it a four-way light-controlled intersection. The new portion of Kentucky Avenue must be at a safe slope where it connects and then carry on and connect eventually to another public roadway. The current proposal calls for Kentucky to meet up with the current divided roadway between McDonald’s and QuikTrip and then carry onto Prairie View Road — the site of the current congestion issues the partners hope to alleviate. “I think we have to be honest with it that this is something that if we can do would be a really positive thing, and we intend to make every effort to do it,” Platte City administrator DJ Gehrt said. “But you have to provide the board and the public with information. There are some things that are no-brainers: this is going to happen. “This one, we’re going to have a solution to it, several different solutions, that will meet MoDOT’s specifications but then we have to decide if it can be done with a viable budget and to the satisfaction of the budgets.” Currently, traffic bottlenecks around the two front entrances/exits, especially the left-hand turn lane off of Prairie View onto 92 which immediately gives way to the southbound Interstate 29 entrance ramp on the right-hand side. This creates congestion with lengthy waits for a green left-hand turn signal, mostly due to tractor trailer traffic. The hope is that truckers take over majority use of the new intersection with a new logical traffic pattern to utilize while regular commuter traffic continues to use the existing entrances/exits. Highway 92 would feature a right-hand turn entrance and exit on the back side of the Quik Trip/McDonalds parking lots. Kentucky Avenue would also be changed to allow cross traffic and add a left-hand turn option on the new portion of the roadway designed for tractor trailers looking for an easier exit to reach I-29. However, there will be no restrictions placed on what type of vehicle use which entrance/exit. Talks about this project have been ongoing for a long time but really ramped up in the past year after initial difficulties were overcome. SKW completed a task order on the project this past spring, which helped the city start discussions with MoDOT and the private land owners and eventually reach agreement on a plan. Now, a right-of-way agreement would be the last hurdle to clear before going to the Platte City Board of Aldermen for final approval. Until the major details were ironed out, Gehrt continued to insist the city would not rush a project that was not complete despite the time-sensitive money involved, but that appears to not be a major concern at this point.