Some Crystal City property owners are up in arms over plans to widen Truman Boulevard from Brandon Wallace Way to Eighth and Sixth streets.
About 12 of those property owners, some who operate businesses along the stretch of road and some who rent space to other businesses, met Monday before the Crystal City Council meeting to inform city officials about their opposition to the Missouri Department of Transportation’s plan to widen that .82-mile section of road by 12 feet, about 6 feet on each side, and make other improvements.
The project, which will cost an estimated $2,517,000, also will include the installation of a bi-directional left-turn lane on Truman Boulevard at Brandon Wallace Way, as well as resurfacing the road and completing other associated work.
It’s not the proposed left-turn lane causing consternation among those who own commercial property along that stretch but instead it’s the widening project they’re worried about.
One of those property owners, Jim Smoot, has organized the Truman Blvd. Property Owners Association to lobby against the widening portion of the project, which he said will reduce the amount of parking space available on their properties and make it difficult for people to enter and exit their properties.
Smoot owns a building at 803/805 N. Truman Blvd. that houses The Donut Hole restaurant and Assessment & Counseling Solutions.
“We feel the 12 feet is excessive when you consider the space available,” said Smoot, a St. Louis County resident. “We feel 8 feet to 10 feet is sufficient.”
Smoot and others from his group asked Crystal City officials to back their effort to get MoDOT to change its plans for the widening project.
“Our goal is to make sure our properties are protected,” Smoot told the council. “I don’t think there is a person in here who doesn’t support a left-turn lane. But, at what price?”
Smoot said at least 19 properties will be affected by the project.
“(MoDOT) wants to control how your customers get in and out of your property,” he said.
Smoot said that when MoDOT has completed similar widening projects, the agency has placed islands, curbs and sidewalks along the improved roads, which also eat into the commercial properties.
“The problem the businesses have with islands is they either limit or eliminate parking,” Smoot said. “An example would be the island in front of Casey’s (General Store, 1245 N. Truman Blvd.).”
Smoot said he has met with MoDOT representatives and found them unresponsive to the group’s concerns.
“MoDOT does not care about any of these property owners here,” he said.
Crystal City leaders appeared sympathetic to the business owners’ concerns.
“My recommendation is that we support these property owners,” Mayor Tom Schilly said.
Ward 1 Councilman Jack Ginnever and Ward 4 Councilman Jared Farmer volunteered to continue meeting with the Truman Blvd. Property Owners Association.
Smoot said he also has asked state Rep. Becky Ruth (R-114th) to help the group with their effort to get MoDOT to change its plans.
Ruth could not be reached for comment by Leader deadline.
On Tuesday, MoDOT area engineer Stephen O’Connor said plans for the project are in place, but confirmed Ruth is scheduled to meet with MoDOT officials Friday. Crystal City Administrator Jason Eisenbeis also plans to be at that meeting.
He said the meeting with Ruth will help determine if any changes will be made to MoDOT’s plans for the project.
O’Connor said the project is tentatively scheduled to start this summer, but the results of the meeting could affect its start.
He said once the project begins, it will take about six months to complete.