MoDOT, City consider improvements to Baltimore Street

The Missouri Department of Transportation and the City of Kirksville are currently planning improvements for Baltimore Street’s road surfacing, curbing, sidewalks, signals and water drainage issues in a five-year plan.
Amy Crawford, the MoDOT Area Engineer for the counties of Adair, Schuyler, Scotland, Knox, Lewis, and Clark, said Baltimore Street has had problems as long as she has worked with the department. MoDOT was not allowed to look at Baltimore Street for potential projects previously because of its status as a supplementary route. Crawford said this changed recently, and MoDOT is now permitted to scope these routes, and she said she is excited to see this project move forward.
Crawford said her department has looked at  Baltimore Street for potential improvements, the first step in the extensive process of developing roadway projects. Crawford said MoDOT hired consulting firm Bartlett & West to create preliminary plans for Baltimore Street. She said these plans are due at the end of the year.
Crawford said along with these plans, MoDOT will have an estimate for the cost of the project. They will prioritize needs based upon these costs and consult the City of Kirksville to create final plans. She said from here, there will be meetings with committees to dictate which projects the area wishes to add to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. This program looks forward five years at projects the state wants to accomplish. The proposed projects are then sent to the central office in Jefferson City where they are reviewed by the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission and subject to public comment. Finally, the highway commission can approve the new STIP. Crawford said she hopes a Baltimore Street renovation will be on this new STIP, but it is unknown how far in the future it will take place or what it will entail.
Assistant city manager Ashley Young said the city and its Airport and Transportation Commission are working with MoDOT to get Baltimore Street improvements in their long-term plan.
“The city’s concerns are that it is unsightly and unsafe,” Young said. “As the main thoroughfare and corridor into our city, it’s an embarrassment.”
However, Kirksville cannot take it upon itself to address these issues. Unlike Illinois Street, recently repaired by the city using city resources, Baltimore Street is owned by the State of Missouri, Young said. Therefore, repairs are under the jurisdiction of MoDOT.
City councilman Zac Burden said state ownership of the street and a lack of state funding have been the primary obstacles. Despite the fact that MoDOT has completed the scoping phase for projects on Baltimore, Burden said he remains only cautiously optimistic until the plan is locked into the STIP in July. There are still other obstacles within this project.
“There is a unique issue coming up here in November — Proposition D — which would be the voters deciding whether or not to increase the tax on gasoline here in the state of Missouri,” Burden said.
Burden said the tax has not increased since 1996, and he said it’s important for citizens to vote in favor of Proposition D to help MoDOT secure much-needed funding for the statewide highway network.