Lincoln County, Moscow Mills and Troy are discussing the potential for an outer road on the west side of Highway 61 connecting Lincoln Drive to Moscow Mills at Highway C.
The county has been toying with the idea for a while, said Lincoln County Economic Development Director Julie Rodgers, but recently the decision was made to push forward and pursue infrastructure and road projects.
“And outer roads specifically, because that’s where our growth could occur,” Rodgers said. “We expect what will happen on the west side [is] much like the east side where you have all the development and all the stores and businesses and even Ranken Tech going over that direction.”
At that time, the county commissioners hired an engineering form to draw plans and get costs. They clocked the project at around $4 million. The almost two-mile road project has sections in both cities; a large chunk of the property rests in Troy, and the other big piece is in the city limits of Moscow Mills. Another small portion is in county land.
“There’s a small little sliver that’s unincorporated, you could throw a rock over it,” Rodgers said.
As such the project is one that requires joint participation from the various parties.
The county has applied and been given a MoDOT grant that matches the funds put towards the project, effectively covering half the costs and leaving approximately $2 million left on the tab.
Getting further grants is challenging, Rodgers said, because there’s no businesses committing to come to the site.
“If we had a company that was coming in and they were going to bring 500 jobs, 50 jobs, we could get additional funding, but we don’t right now,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said the county is interested in the project, but there would still be basic details to iron out as the partnership between Troy, Moscow
Mills and the county develops.
“Ownership of the road, who maintains the road, things like that,” Rodgers said. “But at this point it’s kind of up to the cities to decide, if they think that this is an investment that they want to make.”
The county has decided to apply for a federal loan, which it would not be locked into accepting if Troy and Moscow Mills decide against the project and the Outer 61 Road initiative doesn’t happen. Without an outer road, however, Rodgers said that property will have a difficult time drawing any commercial developments.
“You may get some residential development back there, but you won’t get any commercial or anything else,” Rodgers said.
“The cities just have to decide if this is the time, or if it’s not,” she added.
Moscow Mills Mayor Patrick Flannigan said he and his city’s Board of Aldermen are interested in the project, adding that he is planning to work with the private property owners in the path of the project, to grant the right of way through.
“I personally think that somehow, some way we can dig through this and put it together, because it does represent a phenomenal growth aspect for all three entities,” Flannigan said.
Commercial development isn’t the only potential boon for that area – should additional residential come to the area thanks to the outer road project, Flannigan said adding to housing density can help fill in the base costs of water and sewer, potentially lowering utility bills.
Troy’s Board of Aldermen discussed the project at its Feb. 25 meeting; Mayor Ron Sconce said there are a lot of details regarding the project that need to be considered. For example, to move forward, Moscow Mills, the county and Troy would need to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU), and a part of that document would be to assign who would be in charge of maintenance of that outer road following the project’s completion.
“We can’t really make a promise to take over a road that’s not in the city limits,” Sconce said.
Sconce told his board that the project would cost the city some money, and mentioned the federal loan the county is looking at, but said the details of how the finances would be leveraged to pay for the road need to be worked out.
Alderman David Norman said he’d rather see that money go towards the streets and sidewalks in the city of Troy before being spent on a service road.
“I understand the business and development part of it, but we have streets, we have sidewalks, that are desperately in need of repair,” Norman said. Other aldermen shared their thoughts about the Outer 61 Project – and brought up other road issues like the Highway 47 overpass – as well.
Rodgers, who was in attendance at that board meeting, said to the aldermen that part of the reasoning behind the project is public safety, and part is to further growth in the county.
“We know we’ve got some roads and more congestion on the roads than they can handle,” Rodgers said. “The other part of that is for economic development. If you look at the east side of 61, you see all that growth there, so we fully expect that area [west side of 61] will develop. Now can we promise? No. But I can promise that if we don’t add a service road and get the infrastructure over there, we’ll never be able to develop that property.”