Local Government

Marion County Commission again lists Hannibal bypass as top transportation priority

Traffic clogs the lanes in both directions of U.S. 61 in Hannibal, Mo., in 2012. The Marion County Commission still considers a U.S. 61 bypass around Hannibal its top transportation priority. | H-W File Photo/Michael Kipley
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 5, 2018 6:15 pm Updated: Mar. 5, 2018 6:24 pm

PALMYRA, Mo. -- A proposal to build a U.S. 61 bypass around Hannibal once again tops the Marion County Commission's transportation priority list.

During its weekly meeting Monday in Palmyra, the commission approved a revised list of transportation needs for 2018.

The commission's list -- adjusted annually -- will be submitted to a transportation advisory committee formed by the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments. The committee is collecting transportation priority lists from eight counties in the region and will turn them over to the Missouri Department of Transportation for regional ranking of future projects.

Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode said the "Hannibal expressway" has topped the commission's priority list for several years. However, the project hasn't advanced because of limited state funding.

Bode said Marion County commissioners believe the bypass is needed for safety reasons because of all the heavy truck traffic that pours through Hannibal daily on U.S. 61, designated the "Avenue of the Saints."

Most of the trucks end up on heavily congested McMasters Avenue, but a growing number of truckers are also using several county roads, such as Veterans Road or Paris Gravel Road, as routes through Hannibal.

Marion County's top-five transportation priorities are similar to last year's list. In addition to the Hannibal bypass, other priorities are:

Upgrades to the U.S. 61/U.S. 24 corridor through Palmyra that include adding a third interchange and improving the outer road on the east side of the highway so it connects with all interchanges.

Installation of shoulders along 30 miles of Route 168 in Marion County.

Improved lighting along Veterans Road -- at intersections with Route MM and Route W --and at the west end of Monroe City where U.S. 36 connects with Business U.S. 36.

Widen the one-lane railroad underpass on Route E west of Palmyra near Woodland. "It's pretty narrow," Bode said.

In addition to the five highway-related improvements on its priorities list, Bode said the commission also was asked this year to come up with its top three "multimodal" project proposals for Marion County.

"It's more of a wish list" in case MoDOT finds a source of funding geared specifically for multimodal projects, Bode said.

Ranking first on the county's multimodal list was a proposal to expand Hannibal Regional Airport. Placing second was a proposal to add bike lanes on U.S. 168 between Hannibal and Palmyra. Placing third was a proposal to boost funding for the OATS transportation service serving rural counties in Northeast Missouri.

The commission also finalized financing plans so Sheriff Jimmy Shinn can acquire three new squad cars under a three-year lease arrangement for $118,183.