Highway 92's future in Platte City currently under discussion

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Officials are starting a Highway 92 Corridor Study to help shape the future of the roadway in Platte City from Bethel Road on the east to Highway 273 on the west. Officials believe development will happen in Platte City on the east side of Interstate 29 so planning for the major east-west roadway starts now.

Although any changes could be years away, the City of Platte City, the Mid-American Regional Council (MARC) and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) began their Highway 92 Corridor Study with a project advisory committee meeting and a public open house held Thursday, Oct. 30. The study will involve the portion of Highway 92 from Bethel Road on the east to Highway 273 on the west.

The area includes all land within a quarter mile of either side of the roadway.

“It’s going to change 92, so we want to get ahead of that,” Platte City city administrator DJ Gehrt said during opening remarks at the open house held at Shiloh Springs Golf Course’s clubhouse. “We want to start planning so that we have a better understanding of what the current citizens, the current property owners want to see on Highway 92 rather than just waiting until things happen to us.

“This gives us a chance to see what people want and see if we can shape our own future.”

Currently, no funding source exists to alter Highway 92, according to Gehrt, so all of the planning will be long-range.

However, Vireo — a planning and design consulting firm hired for the project — plans to engage the community and the advisory committee to help form a corridor plan. That involves the current information gathering that will lead to improvement concepts this winter with a preferred alternative set to be chose in the spring of 2016 and the drafting of an official corridor plan by next summer.

The first meetings asked those in attendance — about 25 individuals — to give a word or phrase to best describe the vision for Highway 92, along with challenges and opportunities for the project.

“One of my concerns is that we have a corridor which is fantastic for multimodal transportation — a terrific corridor — but they kill the city because there’s nothing for us to stop and see and enjoy,” said Dan Laxson, a Platte City resident since 2007. “We need the Highway 92 corridor attractive and vibrant but something that makes people want to stop and look at our city — and of course, spend some money.

“We need that income.”

Residents can also fill out the online survey at highway92.digicate.com through Nov. 29.

That includes picking the word or phrase to describe the corridor in 2020 along with certain options to pick from among challenges and opportunities. Challenges include flooding, steep slopes, highway safety, connecting to downtown, transportation options and future development/redevelopment. Opportunities include river access, housing/shopping/dining options, downtown, bike/transit/pedestrian connections, small town character and park and recreational amenities.

Users will be asked to select three options from each category.

Items discussed at the public open house included the use (or lack thereof) for roundabouts, multimodal transportation, increasing the visibility of downtown, diversity of retail/dining options and keeping the small town appeal so that 92 doesn’t become similar to Liberty, Mo. — which attendees viewed as having a lack of traffic flow. Signage to indicate the downtown’s location and how to connect a walking trail over Highway 92, one near the Platte River on the western edge of town, were all discussed as potential parts of the corridor plan.

Consistency of lanes for Highway 92 was also brought up with much of the western and eastern edge at two lanes and the busiest part at four lanes with a center turn lane.

“What happens on one side affects the other,” Gehrt said. “We know there’s development coming. We know it’s going to affect 92’s east side; we know that’s going to affect the entire corridor.”

Gehrt noted that the current plan to extend Kentucky Avenue across Highway 92 and into the backside of the QuikTrip and McDonald’s locations on NW Prairie View Road will involve changing the grade of the roadway. In addition, Highway 92 is set for a complete resurfacing from Smithville, Mo. to Tracy, Mo. in the fiscal year 2017 — beginning as early as July of 2016 or as late as March of 2017.

The consultants identified possible improvements with site limitations near Bethel Road and the intersection at Marshall Road along with the ability to improve the three-legged intersection at Highway 273.

MARC is funding 85 percent of the study, while the City of Platte City is responsible for the other 15 percent.