Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a great week. What’s up with this weather? It was nearly 70 degrees yesterday and tomorrow won’t make it out of the 30s? I really wish Mother Nature would make up her mind! Is it spring yet?

Hello everyone!  I hope you’re having a great week.  What’s up with this weather?  It was nearly 70 degrees yesterday and tomorrow won’t make it out of the 30s?  I really wish Mother Nature would make up her mind!  Is it spring yet?
Last week, I informed you of your city council’s goal to find a solution to the traffic and safety problems along Hwy 86 between I-49 and Gateway Dr.  That solution was an offer to MoDOT of $1 million+ as a cost share in hopes that the supplemental funding could remove the financial barriers that were preventing MoDOT from  addressing the numerous accidents and daily near-misses occurring along this stretch of road.  Work on finding ways to address this has been a long time coming.
It is with sheer disappointment and frustration that I report to you the city of Neosho was forced to withdraw its application (at least for now) after MoDOT refused to accept our position on two key points.
First and foremost, MoDOT insisted the city taxpayers be on the hook for any cost overruns on this project. Apparently offering to help with up to $1.2 million was not enough.  Accepting such an open-ended condition would have put too much risk on our community and our city coffers while providing MoDOT with NO incentive to contain costs or to efficiently manage the program.  You and I couldn’t agree to terms like that as private citizens.  Why should it be any different for government projects?  My answer: it shouldn’t!
MoDOT also insisted that the city stop pursuing a responsible settlement with the Neosho TDD regarding future maintenance on roads they built.  In short, MoDOT insisted the city drop our opposition to accepting the TDD roads that have been the subject of repeated failures and repairs.  This, too, puts the taxpayers of Neosho at risk of taking on additional responsibilities and costs that SHOULD be paid solely by those who built the roads and who imposed the additional ½ cent sales tax on every person who shops at Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and other businesses inside the TDD boundary – the TDD itself!  
Honestly, I shouldn’t be surprised.  It wasn’t too long ago that a MoDOT District engineer stood before the Neosho City Council and exclaimed “He who has the gold makes the rules” – meaning that the city had no say or leverage when it came to negotiating the terms of any agreement with the big gorilla - MoDOT.  I’ll never forget those words and who said them and I truly hope that attitude at MoDOT changes at some point.  It’s not one I consider “responsible” given all of the fortune MoDOT possesses came from the taxpayer mine.   (I also observe that MoDOT seems to be running low on gold these days and would like the people of Missouri to dig deeper into our personal gold mine-aka our pockets-to replenish their royal bounty.)
The good news is the city does have plans to resubmit the request sometime in June.  While I’ll no longer be on the council at that point, you can be assured that I’ll still be sharing my views with those who remain on the city council, those at MoDOT, and those in Jefferson City about the serious issues along Hwy 86.  People have died at those intersections.  Accidents occur there too often.  Time is of the essence for MoDOT to step up and provide a solution.  Money will always be tight.  There will always be projects that take priority.  But given the data I’ve seen and the financial package your city council offered, this one seemed like a no-brainer…but what do I know!
A quick shout-out to the Neosho Showtime Dance team. They finished their season on Wednesday night.  Thank you Coach Teresa Jennings for another great year of dance excitement!

Neosho City Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Richard Davidson writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.