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Shafer Road fate still uncertain

Photo by Shari Harris
Patching of deeper holes on Shafer Road is shown in the background of this photo, taken on July 12. This has improved the drivability of the route. In the foreground, more shallow breaks in the pavement are evident, causing continued concern among citizens who utilize the road.

By Shari Harris, Publisher

A petition drive which started earlier this year asked for road improvements to Shafer Road in Sherrill Township, in northern Texas County. Close to 500 signatures were collected from citizens concerned about the condition of the approximately 6.9 mile stretch of paved road, which passes multiple residences and farms and offers access from two directions to the George O. White State Forest Nursery.

While recent patching has temporarily decreased the number of potholes, the road is still in very poor shape, with areas of pavement broken off the edges and large, long holes where no asphalt remains.

The petition drive resulted in increased interest in the condition of the road, and on June 15, State Rep. Bennie Cook attended a meeting he helped organize between the Sherrill Township Board, the County Commission, some concerned residents of the township, and representatives of the Missouri Dept. of Transportation (MoDOT) and Missouri Dept. of Conservation (MDC).

MoDOT reported the State was willing to supply materials to patch bad spots and chip seal the rest of the road if the Township would assume all responsibility and ownership of the road. The Township would also be required to supply the labor and the rest of the costs. Concerns were voiced that if the Township assumed ownership of the road after the chip seal, they would be responsible for redoing the chip seal every few years, at a current cost of approximately $100,000, which their budget does not allow. They only receive about $1,000 per mile of roadway from the County annually.

The rural nature of Missouri’s largest county by size means an excess of county roads with a small tax base. Sherrill Township maintains 104.2 miles of county roads.

Suggestions were made to MoDOT that Shafer Road should become an extension of Highway CC, and MoDOT should assume responsibility for future maintenance.

The road provides access to a state forest nursery, which is owned and operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation, with visitors from several states and many delivery vehicles driving along it each year. Some citizens have expressed confusion as to why MDC wouldn’t want to improve the road to one of their premier nurseries.

As Sherrill Township Board Members await further information from MoDOT, whose representative was to take suggestions to MoDOT headquarters to look for solutions, the deterioration of the road creeps onward.

Those signatures on the petitions brought people to the table to begin the discussions. The citizens who initiated the petition drive have not given up on a solution, and are anxiously awaiting MoDOT’s response. They believe keeping the attention of local and state politicians on the problem may be the best chance of getting a positive response from the State, whether it be MoDOT, MDC or otherwise.

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