When doing highway-improvement math, there are three key letters.
BCA is an acronym for Benefi t Cost Analysis.
A simple explanation for BCA is that for every dollar spent, it is hoped that one is saved. Projects that do just that have a 1-to-1 net BCA.
When Steve Prange of Crawford Murphy Tilly (CMT), a consulting and engineering fi rm from Springfield tasked with completing the official U.S. 60 Corridor Study for the Webster County Commission, recently went to work on a highway project just west of Springfield, the BCA was 1:15-to-1.
“In essence, the estimated return of investment was $1.15 for every dollar spent,” Prange explained to a crowd of 37 gathered last Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Seymour Senior Citizens’ Center on the west side of the city square.
“That was a net BCA that the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) was pleased to hear, and MoDOT funded the project.”
Prange and his team from CMT compiled the same BCA numbers for the U.S. 60 Corridor in Webster County, which begins in the east at Cedar Gap and ends in the west at Rogersville.
The BCA for the entire 28-mile corridor?
Better yet, the BCA for Seymour’s section of the project? 2.75-to-1.
“The good news for Seymour is that you’re the No. 1 safety priority for the project,” Prange said.
And the bad news?
There is no funding for the work, which is estimated (in 2029 dollars) at $37,163,939 for Seymour and at just over $114 million for the entire corridor.
Three interchanges in Seymour
For more than an hour on Nov. 19, Prange described the proposed project in great detail to nearly 40 people who were present, noting that under CMT’s plan, Seymour would get three new interchanges along U.S. 60.
The first would be on the city’s west side near the current McDonald’s.
The second would be at the intersection of Highway C and Highway K.
The third would be at PeeWee Crossing Road, roughly three miles east of Seymour’s city limits.
“You guys (in Seymour) are getting the lion’s share of the infrastructure improvements for the entire project,” Prange noted. “The biggest improvements or most significant are the three new interchanges.”
Currently, he said the annual average number of automobile accidents along U.S. 60 in Webster County is 163.
“With the proposed improvements, that number would be reduced by almost half,” Prange said.
“Travel times also would improve ... this will become a limited-access highway if implemented.”
In Seymour, the two highest-accident crossings on U.S. 60 can be found at the two aforementioned intersections on the east and west sides of town.
“Both are stoplights,” Prange said. “Over the past seven years, there have been 624 accidents or crashes along U.S. 60 in Webster County. Of those, 192 of them have occurred in Seymour. That’s a very-high proportion.”
If the new interchanges are constructed, Prange said a system of outer roads must be built on the north and south sides of the four-lane highway.
And at each interchange, the CMT plan calls for an over-pass to be built, crossing the railroad tracks.
“This is a bridge over the railroad,” he explained.
“One of the goals of this study, with safety first in mind, is to eliminate dangerous railroad crossings and stoplights. That’s the purpose of the rail overpasses and outer roads.”
Prange noted that “nothing is set in stone” until the project’s design phase is completed; however, he added that he didn’t see the plan presented in Seymour last week changing much, if at all.
“Seymour has been very good at coming out and providing us with input,” he said. “At the first meeting at city hall, we had 44 present. The second meeting here at the senior center had 42 come out. And tonight’s crowd looks very similar to the previous crowds we’ve had.”
Seymour’s attendance even was bolstered by a few Amish residents.
“We had a great turnout at our recent Diggins meeting by the Amish,” Webster County Presiding Commissioner Paul Ipock, R-Diggins, said. “The Amish community has been very helpful during this study, and we appreciate it.”
The U.S. 60 Corridor Study has four sections, including:
• Rogersville, which has a 0.64-to-1 net BCA.
• Fordland, which has a 1.26-to-1 net BCA.
• Diggins, which has a 1.55-to-1 net BCA.
• Seymour, which has a 2.75-to-1 net BCA.
Heavy growth expected here Prange said that in the 2010 census, the population along the corridor was roughly 16,000.
Today, that estimate is 19,712.
“We realize that growth isn’t going to stop,” he said.
“We also believe that with highway improvements, that growth could really take off.”
In CMT’s overall plan, the U.S. 60 corridor in Webster County would get eight new interchanges between Cedar Gap and Rogersville.
“The economic potential in southern Webster County on this corridor is huge,” Prange said.
“With this data, I suppose that what I’m saying is that if you build it, they will come.”
Partners with the county in the U.S. 60 Corridor Study include Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, MoDOT and the Southwest Missour Council of Governments (SMCOG).
The project’s price tag was more than $200,000.
By the end of the year, CMT will post its final report on the project.
Then the company will go to work looking for grants and any type of funding.
“We don’t have any money for this now, but I plan to make our case to every agency, federal and state, that will listen to me,” Prange concluded