FORT SCOTT — Fort Scott businesses and residents had an opportunity to look over South National and 23rd Street improvement plans during a public meeting Thursday at Fort Scott City Hall.

FORT SCOTT — Fort Scott businesses and residents had an opportunity to look over South National and 23rd Street improvement plans during a public meeting Thursday at Fort Scott City Hall.

They were also able to give their opinions and input to representatives from Felsburg Holt and Ullevig, the Omaha, Neb., firm planning the project.

“We don’t want to be off in our corner of the world making these plans,” said Kyle A. Anderson, PE, PTOE, project manager. “We want to get input from businesses and people affected by the changes. We spent all day meeting with businesses and property owners, and I think we had a good response.”

Anderson and his associates pointed out their proposed intersection changes on large area drawings.

Proposed improvements at the South National Avenue intersection with US 69   include widening the highway to provide a northbound left turn lane and reconstruction of South National from just south of 18th Street to the US 69 intersection; removing the west approach to Huntington Blvd. to US 69 between the Pizza Hut driveway and the highway; creating a three-lane section to provide a left turn lane for vehicles turning left onto US 69; constructing a bicycle/pedestrian trail on the west side of US 69 and a sidewalk on the south side of South National; and modifying parking lots to adjacent properties and access/circulation in conjunction with the improvements.

It is not anticipated that a traffic signal will be installed at South National at this time, since Kansas Department of Transportation statistics indicate that traffic flow does not require a signal.

At the 23rd Street intersection, proposed improvements include adding raised medians on the US 69 approaches to the street to restrict access near the intersection to right-in/right-out movements; widening US 69 to one side (most likely to the east)  to provide enough width for construction of the median; construction of a bicycle/pedestrian path on the west side of US 69; widening the 23rd Street approaches to US 69 to provide a separate left turn lane, which may impact parking, access and circulation at the Taco Bell; and installation of new traffic signals.

Estimated cost of the street projects is $1.9 million.

“That really isn’t so much when you consider all we’ll be able to do with that money,” Anderson said.

Robert Tersinar, general manager of Shepherd Auto Plaza , was one of those who met with Anderson and his colleagues.

“I do appreciate them taking the time to meet with businesses and property owners,” he said. “I did make some suggestions, and overall, we’re pleased they’re taking our input and glad we’ve been included at this point in the process.”

Tersinar said the changes might take some of the auto plaza’s parking lot and cause it to lose some frontage.

“It may limit a little access to our property, but we have multiple entrances and I don’t think it would cause us to lose business,” he said. “At first glance, the plan appears to improve public safety.”

A previous plan threatened to encroach on the Fort Scott Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1165, located at 1745 S. National. Members feared it would wipe out the post’s back meeting room, kitchen and part of the parking lot.

Clint Walker, Mapleton, a VFW trustee, was relieved to see that the new proposed plan doesn’t affect the post.

“I was concerned about what would happen, but it seems like they have a good plan,” he said. “I’m all for safety.”

“The plan looks good,” said Fort Scott mayor James Adams. “I think it does a lot of good for a lot more than just Fort Scott. This is an important project for southeast Kansas.”

That includes Pittsburg. Adams noted the large number of  Kansas City area and Bourbon County students who travel south to attend Pittsburg State University.

“Surely their parents are concerned for their safety as they travel, and this makes their trip safer,” the mayor said. “We’ll also continue to push for a four-lane highway down to Pittsburg.”

He noted that an expanded highway to the south will benefit Fort Scott as well as Pittsburg.

“We lost an industry that was considering locating here,” Adams said. “It involved a huge number of semi trucks coming in every day, and they told us that while our access from the north was good, our access from the south was poor.”

Anderson and colleagues are scheduled to complete their preliminary design for the intersection  projects in February 2012, with a second public meeting for additional input in March. Final design should be completed by November 2012, with construction starting in March 2013.