Perryville hosted the monthly meeting of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission last week at the Perry Park Center where local leadership used the opportunity to speak with MHTC about projects we have accomplished in the past decade and provide an outline of what we are currently working towards in the future for the betterment of the city and county’s transportation needs.
The Commission is a six-member bipartisan board that governs the Missouri Department of Transportation. Members are appointed for a six-year term by the governor and are confirmed by the Missouri Senate.
After a brief welcome from City of Perryville Mayor, Larry Riney, Perry County Presiding Commissioner Mike Sauer took to the podium to offer a word of thanks to the commission for the work that has begun on the Don Welge Memorial Bridge that will replace what is currently known as the Chester Bridge that connects Perry County to Randolf County, Illinois. An official groundbreaking was held at the construction site on October 31, and the $284 million project is expected to be complete by the end of 2026.
The highway commission heard from Perryville City Administrator Brent Buerck who gave a rundown of the list of past projects the community has completed locally, crediting the productive working relationship community leaders and MoDOT have created in recent years including the hike and bike pathway that runs along Hwy 51 that was funded in part with a PATH grant.
Buerck explained the next phase of the multimodal project has been approved to take the sidewalk path to Hwy 61, “At the end of that process you will be able to get from baseball and football fields on one side of town to the soccer park and splash pad on the other side of town, creating 11 miles of uninterrupted sidewalks. That doesn’t happen without MoDOT and your support.”
Buerck went on to highlight Hwy AC that connects Hwy 51 and 61 through a portion of the Perryville
Industrial Park that was funded in part through a MoDOT cost share.
“All these things are too big for us to do by ourselves, but with the partner that MoDOT has been, and your Southeast region folks who are absolutely stellar, we say thank you,” Buerck said.
Next up, Crystal Jones, Executive Director of Perry County Economic Development Authority spoke to the commission about current transportation expansion goals for the region that would benefit the community, highlighting a list of “future projects we would like to undertake here in Perryville.”
Jones said a rail terminal is high on the list of needs for Perry County.
“Over the past year, we have been working with consultants to conduct a feasibility analysis for a possible trans-load rail terminal facility in Perry County,” Jones said. “We talked to many businesses in the region who have indicated it would be a great asset for them. Consultants have estimated a $15 million price tag for a facility like this along the BNSF Rail line. We are working to make this a reality, continuing to talk to businesses to get aggressive partners in place, while seeking other funding opportunities for a long-term goal.” Jones said an Interstate 55 interchange would also be of benefit to the community.
“We are hoping to put this interchange between exit 129 and 135,” Jones said. “It would be a primary artery from our industrial park out to Interstate 55. We have a large industrial park with a lot of employees, which generates a lot of traffic. Taking that traffic off of Hwy 51 and Perryville Blvd. and routing it down that interchange would improve both safety and alleviate congestion.” Leadership also thinks the interchange would also open more opportunities for industrial development.
Jones said additional traffic control is also needed along Hwy 51.
“We have talked in the past about a traffic control devise,” Jones said. "We would also like to explore the possibility of a round about at Hwy 51 and Alma Ave. There are some commercial development opportunities that could open up if traffic flow was improved along that route. We hope to apply for a TEAP grant in 2024 to study this opportunity.”
Transportation Commission Vice Chair Dustin Boatwright had high praises for the work being done in Perry County.
You are a small community, but you can identify a project, get the community behind them then execute them. Perryville is really good at doing that,” he said. “The last three years, I have gotten see firsthand the leadership in action here. There are a handful of communities throughout Missouri that are as proactive as Perryville that go after and stretch the dollars that are out there, and work bring them into Southeast Missouri which is a big deal. We appreciate the partnership you have with MoDOT staff. I have only heard wonderful things.”