THAYER -- Representing her husband, Pauline Manes addressed several members of Thayer City Council, Thayer Mayor Allen Deckard, Missouri Department of Transportation District (MoDOT) Engineer Tom Stehn, and other invited guests at Thayer City Hall recently. "Our main concern is the safety of the children crossing Highway 63," she said.
The meeting with Stehn was organized by Manes' husband, Bill, after he observed what he has called a high volume of traffic and pedestrians at the Highway 63 intersection. The Maneses and other community members are concerned the construction of the new Thayer Elementary School on Highway 142 East will increase the number of children crossing the busy highway. Manes said he was disturbed at the number of vehicles speeding and running red lights at that portion of the highway. He has been on a mission to involve the community and MoDOT in partnering to build a crosswalk at the intersection.
Also attending the meeting were Thayer City Council members Buddy Rogers and Steve Alford, Oregon County Economic Developer Edd Hatten, Thayer School Superintendent Bill Garrison, Thayer Chamber of Commerce President Ron Cornelius and state Rep. Mike Dethrow. Most everyone at the meeting agreed that everything was in place for a potential problem at the intersection, especially when the new school is open in August.
"I need to better understand the situation," Stehn said. "There are a lot of questions I have, including how often is the intersection crossed? What time is the largest number of people crossing? How much traffic do we have there? Although an overpass may be the answer at the intersection, we need to evaluate the concerns before we just say we need or are going to build an overpass," the engineer said.
Manes asked the engineer if the crosswalk should become a reality what kind of a cost could be expected. He said probably $1 million and the project would have to meet American Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. When asked if the project could receive any financial backing from MoDOT, Stehn said, "It would be hard for me to say until I better understand the need. The problem I have is that I have to justify funds for 3,800 miles of roads in the 13 counties in this district and we don't have the money to fund them."
Stehn said that area residents concerned with the intersection should work closely with the city, county and the South Central Council of Governments (SCCOG) toward a solution to the problem.
School Superintendent Bill Garrison said when school starts in August there will be bus routes criss-crossing through the city and that, he too, has noticed several children walking and crossing the intersection.
Thayer Chamber of Commerce President Ron Cornelius suggested some type of flashing sign near the intersection that would alert truck drivers and other motorists that children will be crossing at the intersection. Stehn said this could be a possibility and didn't know the cost for such a sign but would look into it. Stehn said he would like to be given a fair amount of time to look at the options to the situation and come back at a later date to discuss the situation further.
Dethrow also gave some input into the situation at the intersection. He said, "As far as the overpass, nothing says we have to go over the road. We could go under the road. There are other options like getting the buses to cross the intersection all at the same time. Thayer is a growing city. I think it is good for the Maneses to get the community involved in this project. The last thing I want is for a child to get killed there."
Manes asked where the project presently stood with MoDot and Stehn replied, "It is on our needs list."
Stehn said again, "We need some data from the city and the school such as how many people are crossing and when are they crossing."
It was decided by the group that in early August Stehn would return to Thayer and look at the intersection situation again.