Baltimore repair plans move ahead

Plans to repair Baltimore Street from Illinois Street to just south of Patterson Street are moving forward as right of way plans have been approved. 

Project Manager Keith Killen said the Missouri Department of Transportation is early in the process of appraising and contacting property owners to negotiate settlements for easements, which are the rights to use a person’s or business’ property to complete a project.  

The plan for the project is to resurface Baltimore Street, eliminate the drop off between the curb and gutter, eliminate water buildup on the road, improve driveways and business entrances, improve sidewalks and upgrade signals for pedestrians. Killen said all of the upgrades and fixes will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Killen said there is currently a preliminary plan for the design that the right of way plans were based on, but the design will not be final until 2021 when the project is let out for bid to contractors. Until then, Killen said, the utility work will also occur, because the road work must avoid utilities such as water lines, telephone lines and gas lines.

“We have to coordinate our design with the utility companies and if there are conflicts, we need to figure out, ‘Okay, where’s the utility going to move,’ and we work with them to find a suitable location to relocate their facilities,” Killen said. 

The utility companies have been contacted, Killen said, and utility work should be starting sometime next year. 

Public Works Director Glenn Balliew said the city has been working with MoDOT for the past four years on this project. 

“You don’t just go and do a project like this,” Balliew said. “It’s several years of planning to make all of this happen and get everything in place. One thing affects another.”

Balliew said part of the timing of this project is based on when MoDOT’s budget can afford it and having enough time before that to plan the project.

The city is also working with the public’s comments and suggestions from the public meeting on May 2 of this year. 

“Everybody was excited that we’re getting it done,” Balliew said. “Obviously, some people asked, ‘Why aren’t we doing more?’”

City Councilmember Jessica Parks said the city will be doing a portion of the sidewalk repairs based on the open house in May. 

“There was one portion of sidewalk that MoDOT said they weren’t going to do,” Parks said. “Basically, a lot of the feedback was [that] citizens wanted to see a complete sidewalk in the new area where they are redoing that so the city has agreed to, as part of the project, put in that sidewalk.”

The part of the sidewalk that the city will do expands from Normal Avenue to Jefferson Street on the west side of Baltimore Street, Parks said. Currently, there is no sidewalk in that location, but she said there is a clear path where people walk, so there should be a sidewalk there. 

Parks said this project is long overdue.

“It is a MoDOT road and I know there was all of this back and forth between the city and the state about getting it,” Parks said. “A lot of people assume it’s a city street and wonder why the city wasn’t doing it.” 

However, Parks said she is happy that the project is getting done now. 

She said the city is also working on a comprehensive 20-year plan, which includes road improvements.

“I’m hoping that when Baltimore [Street] gets finished we will have addressed a lot of our city streets, which have been a concern of a lot of citizens for the past few years,” Parks said.