A prominent transportation route for Raymore-Peculiar District School students and staff may finally get an upgrade.
A 2.3 mile stretch from Hubach Hill Road to 211th Street in northern Cass County, School Road is narrow, hilly and without shoulders. Accidents are frequent, especially during school hours, and in the past, the road has been notorious for hill jumping.
As a former student who drove from Raymore to the district’s high school in Peculiar as a teenager, Presiding Commissioner Jeff Cox said it’s been a priority to develop a plan to improve the safety of those who frequently travel on the road since taking office in January.
“It’s something that needed to happen 20 years ago,” Cox said. “When I drove the road as a teenager, the road was too narrow, it was chip-and-seal, and with all the hills and dips, it was just dangerous.”
Past commissions have tried to rally a plan for School Road, Cox said, but nothing official ever came to pass.
Using some creative strategy, Cox has put together a $5.5 million cooperative agreement proposal, which calls for the county to join with Peculiar and Raymore to add shoulders and turning lanes to the road.
The road would also be widened from 20 feet to 24 feet, and crews would also lessen some of the dips and hills to improve sight lines. The surface would be asphalt and include curbs and gutters.
The county commission unanimously approved the draft copy of the agreement during its March 28 meeting.
“It’s just been one of these problems that county really never had the money to fix, and Peculiar never really did, and I think we have an opportunity to get the plan in place and make it happen for real,” Cox said.
The agreement outlines the work to be completed in three phases – Phase 1, Hubach Hill to 195th Street, is estimated to cost $1.7, Phase 2, 195th to 203rd Street, at another $1.7 million – and the final leg from 203rd to 211th Street, estimated at $2.1 million.
Under Cox’s plan, the county would contribute 68 percent of the total cost of the project, using $1.6 million in quarter-cent road and bridge sales tax revenues and taking out approximately $2.2 million in additional bonds.
To cover the rest of the tab, Peculiar and Raymore would forego three years of their share of road and bridge proportions, with Peculiar chipping in an addition to picking up half of the cost of phase 3, roughly $1 million, because part of it is within its city limits.
“We looked at what the county can afford and how we can make this work,” Cox said.
Peculiar officials have said the city already has about $800,000 in reserve to contribute to improving the road.
Upon completion, Peculiar’s estimated cost share would be 22 percent, or $1.2 million, and Raymore’s would be set at 10 percent, about $546,000.
Cox presented the agreement for review to Peculiar Board of Aldermen earlier this month and received positive feedback from city leaders. The BOA is expected to hold their first reading of the agreement in early May.
Cox’s next stop is Raymore’s City Council during a work session on Monday, April 15.
As a former Raymore councilman, Cox said officials in his city may be hesitant to put their money on a project outside of the city limits.
Cox said it is important to note that before the county began dividing the disbursements of road and bridge sales tax using a per-capita formula among 19 Cass County communities, all of the revenues from 2009, 2010 and 2011 were allocated to the North Cass Parkway project in Raymore.
“My hope is that they will embrace it and enter into agreement with us so that we can really get the project done once and for all,” Cox said. “It’s been an issue for years.”
If both cities do approve the project, the work could begin as soon as later this year and completed within three years.