A once seemingly surefire project in Platte City now faces uncertainty and a fast-approaching deadline.According to city manager DJ Gehrt, QuikTrip wants to explore a second engineering plan after initially agreeing to another design that would have extended Kentucky Avenue from its current terminus into the back of the large convenience store along a shared access with McDonald’s. QuikTrip made the change after considering the future of its store at that location, which could include a new building or major renovations after the project finishes. All right-of-way agreements for the joint project between Platte City, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the private businesses remain in place.
The new preferred design requires a lengthier, more expensive wedge on the currently super-elevated asphalt on the portion of Highway 92 that creates a steep bank near the proposed expanded intersection. This was a preferred original option that Platte City balked at due to the increased cost, but QuikTrip might be willing to pay the extra — estimated now at about $300,000 more, bringing the total for the project to about $1 million — in the interest of keeping its currently undisclosed future plans for the site viable.
If that cost goes beyond $300,000 by a significant amount, Gehrt fears the groups involved might walk away from the project and further delay a much-anticipated finish to the Kentucky Avenue extension. He called the chances of this version of the project being completed about 50-50 at this point.
“We’re going to run out of time by the end of this month,” Gehrt told the Platte City Board of Alderman economic development subcommittee during its meeting Tuesday, March 17. “We’re in fact trying to thread a needle with this project. There’s no doubt about it.”
To keep the project alive, the subcommittee gave support for Platte City to spend another $30,000 to help turn this once preliminary plan into a final design, if and when QuikTrip commits to providing the funds for the increased cost. All sides are set to meet again March 24.
The new final design would then receive added scrutiny from MoDOT to make sure it truly is feasible at the original estimated cost.
The biggest obstacle now becomes whether all of those details can be approved before MoDOT pulls its portion of the funding from the project — about $338,000 — before the window to use it runs out. All money toward the project must be encumbered by the end of MoDOT’s fiscal year, which concludes at the end of June.
“All of the dominoes are still standing, and if they fall, they’re going to fall pretty fast and we’ll have to be ready,” Gehrt said, adding that QuikTrip could end up reimbursing the city for the newly approved $30,000 cost if the project ends up happening.
Platte City entered into an agreement with engineering firm Shafer, Kline and Warren (SKW) for survey and design in August of 2014. That came at an estimated cost of just more than $103,000. The extra $30,000 will go toward redoing that process with the intended changes.
The city would not recoup any of that money if the project falls through in the coming weeks.
However, Gehrt insists that the intersection will have to be completed at some point, and the current project, which is still alive at this point, offers the best chance to share the cost with other entities. In the future, Platte City could be responsible for the full cost, and the subcommittee agreed with his notion that the risk-reward scenario made the additional spending worthwhile.
The goal is to allow the businesses in that area and Platte City to stop missing out on perceived lost revenue due to traffic congestion.
Currently, traffic bottlenecks around the two front entrances/exits on Prairie View Road, especially at the left-hand turn lane onto 92 which immediately gives way to the southbound Interstate 29 entrance ramp on the right-hand side. The hope is that semi-truck traffic takes over majority use of the new intersection with a new logical traffic pattern to utilize while regular commuter traffic continues to use the existing routes.
The super-elevation at the current three-way intersection with Kentucky Avenue 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 to the current private drive between QuikTrip and McDonald’s that goes on to meet up with Prairie View.
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.
However, there will be no restrictions placed on what type of vehicle use which entrance/exit.
The subcommittee also received an update on the arrival of a purchased Naval anchor at the end of a lengthy meeting that also included an accepted audit that continued to show Platte City is in strong financial health.
The historic relic, salvaged from the decommissioned and scrapped USS Platte (AO-186) Cimarron Class fleet oiler, should arrive some time this week. City officials received word from the salvage master at Southern Recycling in Amelia, La., that the anchor was in transit to Platte City as a standalone delivery as of Tuesday afternoon, likely to arrive on Thursday, March 19.
Officials plan to place the anchor at Settler’s Crossing — the small park located at the end of Main Street near the Platte River — and have it be a part of a proposed July 4 celebration commemorating the 175th anniversary of Platte City’s founding. Eventually, the city will pursue a permanent concrete setting to stand the anchor up along with a memorial plaque.
The 708½-foot-long, 36,814-ton ship originally housing the 13-foot-high, 12-foot-wide anchor was named, like all oilers, after a river — in this case the one that runs through Platte City.
The city paid $3,000 for the transport from Louisiana, while Absolute Crane of Platte City will charge a minimum fee of $800 to hoist it onto park land upon arrival.
The cost of the plaque, base and re-setting will be determined later.