Utilities to be moved in preparation of Highway 54 lane change
By Ethan Colbert
A localized effort to bring an eastbound turn lane to the intersection of Highway 54 and Pike County Road No. 43 cleared a major hurdle as officials with the City of Bowling Green agreed Monday evening to cover the expenses associated with relocating the city’s water and sewer lines out of the Missouri Department of Transportation’s right-of-way and the recently constructed MoDOT Maintenance Shed.
Relocating the utility lines is expected to cost the city around $195,000.
Retiring City Administrator Barb Allison said the city plans to cover the cost associated with the relocation using funds left over from a $1 million loan that the city received to use on a different project.
According to multiple city officials, the Board of Aldermen felt they had little choice but to spend the money to relocate the utilities.
“It is better to bite the bullet, do the higher priced option, and to make sure it is done right,” Ward III Alderman Kim Martin Luebrecht said during Monday night’s meeting, which was held in City Hall.
According to members of the city’s governing board, the other two options presented by Four Points Land Surveying and Engineering company representative Norm Ellerbrock each had flaws.
In his presentation, Ellerbrock agreed that neither of the other two options would be the recommended course of action.
The first alternative would have the city government paying $150,000 to dig up the current utility lines and then to rebury them at a deeper level of eight feet below the ground’s surface. The utilities are currently buried about four feet below the ground.
According to Ellerbrock, this option would be problematic because it would be cost prohibitive for the city to dig that deep each time the utility lines needed to be serviced, repaired or replaced.
Ellerbrock said with this particular option, the city would also run the risk of having to dig the utilities up and move them again in the future.
He blamed this on what he characterized as the “very fluid” plans of MoDOT regarding the possible expansion of Highway 54 from a shared two-lane to a shared four-lane highway.
“You want to make sure that it is out of the way,” Ellerbrock said. “The last thing that you would want is to have to dig it up again after paying to have it reburied.”
The second alternative was to seek property easements from those who own property adjacent to the western side of Pike County Road No. 43.
“It would be great to get away from this whole MoDOT property,” Craig Burnett said. Burnett is the other Ward III Aldermen.
Ultimately, city officials said they were concerned that the expense of obtaining these easements may exceed the funds that they have available for the project.
No cost estimate was provided for this alternative.
Members of the city government also expressed concerns that seeking the easements may limit the city’s ability to meet the deadline for when the utilities need to be relocated.
According to the newly named City Administrator Linda Keith Luebrecht, the state transportation department has given the city until May 1 to relocate the utilities.