Highway 92 study creates a lot of theories for roadway’s future

The Highway 92 Corridor Study provides some interesting ideas — in theory.

But that’s the thing about this particular process: it all remains a theory at this point. Theoretically, officials can enhance and improve the vital roadway from Bethel Road out near Shiloh Springs Golf Club on the east to Highway 273 on the west. Theoretically, this could improve traffic patterns and safety for the thousands who travel through the heart of Platte City.

To make these concepts a reality, there still needs to be some money.

As of now, there’s no direct funding for any of the proposed concepts, which you can read more about starting on page A1 of this week’s edition. That’s the other key to this process: time.

Ultimately, this study seeks to help improve Highway 92 over a 10-year period. The City of Platte City in partnership with Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) have undertaken this study hoping to figure out what should be done with hope of figuring out what the cost would be.

From there, the funding can be figured out.

As Platte City city administrator DJ Gehrt said, you can’t wait until you need to spend the money to figure out how you are going to pay for it. At least not when talking about projects of this scope.

The study seeks to determine the transportation and land use to be used on this portion of Highway 92, along with a quarter mile in either direction as part of the examined area. This includes size of the road, sidewalks, amenities and the types of buildings desired.

To be frank, I was disappointed that less than a dozen citizens showed up to the second public meeting. There’s also an advisory council portion of the study along with government and MARC officials working with design teams to draft this concept, which is slated to be finished by the end of this summer.

Gehrt calls the information boring. I call it important (and I know he feels the same way).

The ideas range from well outside the box (creating an exotic new entrance and exit ramp to Interstate 29 between Highway HH and Prairie View Road) to the more mundane (roundabouts, lots of roundabouts). The options will be narrowed down in the coming months, using the feedback gathered to come up with a plan.

Based on what I’ve seen at the two public meetings, I’m going to guess that this plan will need to be malleable.

New information could become available. Funding options could be limited.

What looks and sounds great in this theory might not be what eventually works out. Of course, a preferred alternate will also be included in the plans, so the final product in 2025 — or beyond — could end up looking much different than today’s concepts.

Government officials will have to view this as a living, breathing project and be ready to shift around to make the most of what’s available.

Right-of-way acquisitions would appear to be a big issue when considering what to do and when it can be done. Expanding the roadway to four lanes at the portions east of I-29 and potentially north of Marshall Road in town will present challenges.

One of the options for land use showed a potential increase in retail space along the southside of the roadway, parallel with Goodman’s Auto Repair and Jackson Animal Clinic. That makes one right-of-way decision likely pretty easy: make the additions on the northside to avoid harming existing, thriving businesses.

In town, you have to start considering land acquisition and touchy subjects like “eminent domain.”

During my time at this newspaper, Gehrt and Platte City mayor Frank Offutt have repeatedly said they don’t want to take land unless it’s a final option. Expanding 92 in town would be tricky from Marshall Road to Second Street with limited space. That could mean existing businesses choose to sell during the next 10 years or the city might have to explore all options.

Could that mean a historic building like Bud’s Service Station goes away? Sure. From what I can tell, any business on that particular stretch of road could be a victim of the population increase in the county seat.

Of course, these are all just theories at this point, but you might as well consider all of the possibilities at this point in time.

Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at editor@plattecountycitizen.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.