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Right-of-Way Acquisitions Approved

By Randy Pierce

TROY — Owners of four properties in the unincorporated area just north of Troy have entered into agreements with Madison County which will lead to the extension of Staunton Road with the work to begin sometime later this year.

The Madison County Board voted unanimously at its Wednesday, Jan. 17 meeting to support the purchase of the necessary strips of property to be used in conjunction with the road extension.

The county is using money from its motor fuel tax fund to pay for the acquisitions from Barry W. and Jamie Lynn Budwell at 5 Joshua Court, Jeremy D. and Emily B. Stone at 2412 Staunton Road, Amy L. Randall at 100 Oakland Drive and John C. and Melanie B. Lazor at 2417 Old County Road 21.

With the separate transactions involving far less than a half-acre of property each, the county is earmarking the expense for temporary or permanent easements, right-of-way use and compensation to the owners for “damages to proximity” which in a general sense is provided with the idea that the values of the tracts involved, three of the four excluding Randall’s in this case, may decrease as a result of the road extension. In addition to what is being paid to them for the easements, the Lazors are receiving $7,600 and the Budwells are getting $5,000 in county Motor Fuel Tax funds under this “damage” category while the Stones’ total is less than $1,000.

The recommendation to proceed with these agreements was presented to the county board by its transportation committee, chaired by Bobby Ross of St. Jacob, which offered its unanimous support to the action earlier in January.

At that meeting, the county’s highway department engineer, Adam Walden, explained these four were the last of several parts of property needed for the Staunton Road extension, which in the past he referred to as the “concrete section,” to a point just south of Interstate 70/270. He explained that the bids for the project should be called for in February with the project starting a few months beyond that.

At the meeting of the county board, when asked about this by one of its other members, Dalton Gray of Troy, Ross responded that this is a completely different project than one discussed in the past and met with some citizen opposition concerning the realignment of Staunton Road further to the north in an area with a more rural character. Walden too underscored that point when bringing this up at the committee level earlier this month.   

A resolution authorizing the forward movement on the extension of the lower, more southerly part of Staunton Road was approved by the county board in September.

Known as County Highway 21, this improvement to Staunton Road where it runs in the area of Melody Lane plus Hermann and Pin Oak drives, would occur with the help of funding to be set aside as a result of a vote from the transportation committee and full board to use motor fuel tax money which is received as the county’s share of what consumers pay when purchasing gasoline for their vehicles.

Starting on what is known as South Hickory Street in the City of Troy then changing to Staunton Road north of Illinois Route 162, it currently ends in a “T” intersection with Maple Grove Road but then part of it goes west and continues to the north, this latter segment being the region of the county from where the objections to the plans for a new and different possible extension originated.

Those concerns were focused on maintaining the quietude, peaceful atmosphere and freedom from urban-related congestion, noise and crime which the residents believe would occur with a new Staunton Road configuration in their area. Nothing definite has been decided as yet in regard to that realignment project.

The source of money for the aforementioned property strip acquisitions and the forthcoming roadwork itself, administered through the Illinois Department of Transportation, the county’s motor fuel tax fund, characterized in government circles by its initials, MFT, consists of income derived from a tax paid by operators of motor vehicles on public highways and roads or using recreational watercraft in the waters of this state.

Paid “at the pump” by consumer motorists, the tax collected for this purpose currently stands at 42.3 cents per gallon of conventional gasoline or gasohol with higher rates for diesel fuel and other forms of liquified or natural gas petroleum acquired by customers.

The Illinois Highway Code specifies that this money can only be used toward expenses related to the maintenance, upgrading, improvement or construction of surfaces vehicles use. The logic involved in the setting up of this program many decades ago is that when drivers pay the tax upon purchasing fuel, it comes back as a benefit to them in the form of safe roads to use for short and long-term travel. The restrictions for how the money can be spent have been made more liberal in recent years than when this program was originally established as long as there is a direct connection to the use of thoroughfares, streets, roads and highways by motorists.

The county and all municipalities receiving shares of MFT money are required to report such expenditures to the state department of transportation, fully documented, including advance estimates and bid documents as applicable.

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