The new Platte County Commission has discovered
a major flaw in the roads master plan. Now staff
is scrambling for a solution.
After engineering costs came in over budget by
nearly double for the Jones-Myer/Fox Roads, the
commission has now learned that two other project
packages also exceeded budget.
According to Director of Planning and Zoning
Aaron Schmidt, the Jones-Myer/Fox Roads package
was a projected cost of $2 million. Instead the
total cost for both roads is now estimated at
around $4 million.
Jones-Myer Road, which is currently under construction,
must move forward with the engineer's design despite
the county being over budget.
The county will not, cannot, build an unsafe
road, said Public Works Director Dale Thomas.
At a minimum, you must meet width and drainage
requirements. I wont sign off on a road
that doesnt meet those requirements.
The other road packages, which are currently
under design, may need to see some revisions made
to their design to accommodate the countys
Baker, Farley-Hampton, and Hillsboro Roads were
a budgeted cost of $1.6 million. The engineering
estimates now set a total cost of $4 million for
Humphreys Road was budgeted at $2.3 million.
Now engineers estimates have increased that
projects cost to $4 million. All the projects
currently in design are located west of I-435
between Parkville and Platte City.
Sixteen roads in the unincorporated portion of
Platte County are listed as a part of the roads
The original cost estimates shown in the
Roads Master Plan are not detail oriented and
do not take a comprehensive look at each project
specifically, said Schmidt. The estimates
are essentially planning level costs.
Schmidt said transportation projects typically
begin with planning level costs that
increase in accuracy as they progress from conceptual
stages to engineering and construction. These
figures are typically the first and roughest numbers
in the life of a project and, in this case, only
factored a portion of the needed improvements.
Improvement costs in the Roads Master Plan
were developed on a cost per linear foot
basis, said Thomas. This method did
not account for additional expenses involving
general safety improvements such as road widening,
drainage improvements or other unexpected costs
that can arise.
According to Schmidt, the roads master plan,
which was adopted in 2002, was formulated by several
The roads master plan was done by a county-hired
consultant firm called HNTB, county staff-comprised
of myself and Dale (Thomas), county commissioners
who were primarily led by former 2nd District
Commissioner Steve Wegner, and a committee appointed
by the former commission comprised of county residents,
Schmidt said formulating the roads master plan
and estimating rural road project costs was a
I think it was a group effort. I think
it was a combination of staff, the consulting
engineer and the county commission, said
According to Thomas, he was not a part of determining
the roads budgets.
I formulated the budgets for the bridges
and I will take responsibility for that,
stated Thomas. I worked with them on the
bridge budgets but not the roads budgets.
Schmidt says he is not going to play the blame
Im not going to point any fingers
at anybody, stated Schmidt.
The commission is now at the point of determining
in what direction to head with the funds they
I dont feel like we can go back and
restructure the roads program because its
not fair to the people who voted on it-even though
it is flawed, said 2nd District Commissioner
Were finding out they cant
do the work to the safety standards for the allotted
engineering costs. During the design stage, the
engineers are coming back and saying you need
to do this, this and this. The problem is no one
physically went out and looked at the roads and
seen what physically needed to be done. Such as
if a hill needed to be taken out or if a road
needed to be straightened.
Based on budget constraints, the county commission
has embarked on a public involvement process to
determine how to best spend what money is actually
available. County officials plan to host public
forums this spring to discuss other road improvements
on Humphreys, Elm Grove and Sharps Station
The reality now is that we need to move
forward with what money we have been allotted,
said Plunkett. With the funds we do have,
we can still bring about some considerable improvements
to the unincorporated area. Were looking
for the public to guide us in selecting their
For Plunkett, its disturbing that the citizens
of Platte County were mislead.
Its like they were misled by the
information they were given. Prior to the election,
the residents were given flyers identifying the
road, what improvements were going to be made
and the dollar amount to be allocated to the project,
said Plunkett. The problem is the dollar
amount wont do the work we promised.
The budget discrepancy is especially a concern
for First District Commissioner Tom Pryor, because
the projects currently affected are located in
his unincorporated portion of the county.
Anyone that has concerns should be allowed
to address them directly to us and we will answer
any and all questions, said Pryor. I
can assure them, though, that the transportation
improvements that come about will make a significant
impact on drivers in the rural area.