I try to get out and talk to real people as often as possible, because I never know when someone else might inadvertently stumble upon a great idea for a column topic. But on the internet, I’m a little more direct when I ask the members of various local social media groups what they think I should write about.
So when I asked the good people of a group on Facebook called Sedalia’s Voices there were at least five different people who told me that the top problem facing Sedville was the condition of the roads, specifically the deplorable condition of roads like 16th Street in front of Centennial Park and Engineer. And even as we spoke about it on the internet the rain was falling and probably making the situation worse by the second.
“Seams like the condition of the roads are being talked about,” wrote Samantha Ann, a Certified Nurses Aide from Sedalia, “It seams as the City tears them up, and instead of fixing that one, it’s leaves it a mess and starts on another one that don’t get finished.”
“Definitely the roads.. engineer and 16th are both horrible to drive down,” wrote Amber Ward.
And for those who haven’t experienced that particular stretch of 16th, let me tell you that the stories are all true. You can add the residents of my household to the long list of people who are making a conscious effort to avoid that piece of road. The dust is serious, the rubble is loose and the remnants are jagged. It’s what I imagine taking a full-sized car on the Katy Trail would feel like, but even worse than that.
I was attending a garage sale at a home that is near that section of 16th and all of their wares were slowly but surely being covered with a bombardment of chalky road dust from the passing vehicles.
And wouldn’t you know it, on Monday night many concerned citizens reportedly expressed some of the very same concerns as some on the internet would later that night and early Tuesday morning. The sum of the matter is this: 16th Street and Engineer Avenue are in the state they’re in because it would have cost more money to have the same subcontractors who ripped them up for the sewer project replace them than it would to simply roll the fix into later scheduled road work. The only problem is that in the meantime, we’ve got to deal with some of the worst road conditions we’ve ever seen.
The people who regularly went to Centennial Park, Parkview Elementary School and Parkview Christian Church probably don’t think it was worth it.
City governance is an eternal struggle to make sure that available funds are effectively distributed. Most of the responders to my prompt made it clear that what they’re looking for are civil infrastructure improvements, specifically road/sidewalk infrastructure work.
“Definitely need a light or round a bout at 10th & Winchester,” wrote Peggy Palmer-Williams, a Sedalia MRI/CT Scan Technologist, “Lots of accidents there & lot of traffic on that road & especially since a lot of drivers in that area are Senior Citizens.”
And then there were at least two people who see the need for more sidewalks. It must pain city administration and city workers alike to see thoughts like this, from Diane Yantz: “Sidewalks! Sedalia is not a pedestrian-friendly town.”
The city has been working tirelessly over the last couple of years to change that perception and frequently when I go out and the weather is cooperative for the setting of cement that there’s at least one block somewhere in town that is getting a new set of sidewalks. It seems to be happening so often that I thought we would soon reach the point where people were complaining about sidewalks being the only thing the city will actually spend money on. But in a place like Sedalia where much of it wasn’t built or maintained with pedestrian traffic in mind, it seems as though a cement spreader’s job is never done.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.