A petition has been started asking for road improvements to Shafer Road in Sherrill Township. People who live or drive on Shafer Road have joined together to form a Friends of Old 63/Shafer Road group, with their main objective being “real road improvements to the pavement and sides of the pavement on approximately a 6.9 mile stretch of road called Shafer Road.”
The petition points out that the road, which was originally asphalted in 1932 as U.S. Highway 63, “is deteriorating to the point that the patching of the road is not enough.” The State Highway Commission of Missouri turned the maintenance of the stretch of road over to Texas County on July 21, 1962, because they no longer considered it “economically feasible to maintain.” Sherrill Township “has not had the monies to keep it up like it needs to be in a good, safe condition,” according to the petition.
Townships receive funds from the State based on the road mileage within the township, from motor fuel taxes, motor vehicle sales and motor vehicle fees. Sherrill Township has 104.2 miles of county roads to maintain, the largest road mileage for a township in Texas County. The largest county by size in the state has a limited tax base due to its rural nature and excess of county roads, therefore has to maintain more road mileage with less funds.
Shafer Road has frequent traffic. This road has been used a few times as an emergency bypass route for U.S. 63. It provides access to the George O. White State Forest Nursery, for employees, delivery trucks and vans, and people from all over Missouri and other states who come to the nursery for trees. The community of Sherrill is located on Shafer Road, and houses and farms are located all along its length. R&S Track holds truck and tractor pulls at their track near the south end of the road, with hundreds of people from a large regional area attending. Feed trucks and egg trucks travel along it to reach area farms. At least six county roads connect to Shafer Road, and Highway CC intersects it near Sherrill.
To understand the condition of the road, one needs only to drive it. There are plenty of potholes, but notice the edges of the pavement which are irregular and, in places, extend well up into the driving lane. A short walk along the road allows one to see that in many stretches, all that remains of the asphalt are chunks fitted together like a poorly made puzzle.
Shafer Road turns into County Road 6330 in Phelps County, and there is a marked improvement in road surface at the county line. All together, the road is nearly 10 miles in length. Part of the road runs along the original Jefferson-Batesville Trail, which connected Jefferson City to Batesville, Ark.
One of the Friends of Old Highway 63/Sherrill Road commented that he believed it was the longest stretch of Old Highway 63 that was not kept in State maintenance, in comparison to the stretch of Highway 137 from Licking to Raymondville, and Highway B between Raymondville and Houston.
One suggestion made for a solution to the Shafer Road problem would be for the State to resume maintenance of the road. There has been a recent push in our government for infrastructure improvements. As an emergency bypass route for U.S. Highway 63, and offering access to the State Forest Nursery, this option may well be beneficial to the State, as it would be to the Township, which could divert their funds to upkeep on other roads.
Another option mentioned was converting the road to gravel, which would pose its own problems for upkeep with the amount of traffic the road handles.
If you are interested in reading and/or signing the petition, copies are available at Friend Lumber, Kinder Feed and Farm, Hammond Feed and The Licking News in Licking. The group was scheduled to meet on March 14, and plan to meet again on March 28, in Sherrill, at Montana Blackburn’s shop building. More information is available by calling Ken Trout at 573-889-9727, Leroy Lane at 573-247-9803, or Larry Wrest at 573-674-3351.