POLK COUNTY — After a bicyclist died after being hit from behind on Hoffman Road, some in Monmouth have requested that the city do something to prevent future deaths.
John Shapely, of Independence, was killed on Dec. 30 in the 9000 block of Hoffman Road while traveling on his bicycle. Sheriff Mark Garton said Shapely was wearing dark clothing and no helmet. He said that area of Hoffman Road is unlit, and the road is very narrow with no bike lanes or sidewalks.
Monmouth City Councilman Marshall Guthrie said Monmouth should make more of an effort to increase bicycle safety, including rejecting any new plans that do not include bike lanes; outfitting current streets with high bicycle and vehicle traffic with “sharrow” markings; and taking an inventory of street lights to make sure visibility is sufficient for cyclists and pedestrians on every city street.
The area in question is outside the jurisdiction of the city, City Manager Scott McClure said.
Todd Whitaker, Polk County Public Works director, said it would be very costly to do a road-widening project on Hoffman.
“What would probably be more practical, but still very expensive, is to widen for bike lanes” but not for sidewalks, Whitaker said.
The project would likely cost between $2 million and $3 million, at a very rough estimate, Whitaker said.
“The right way to go about that would be to go through federal or state grants for an enhanced project, something like that,” he said.
That stretch of road is within the Monmouth urban growth boundary, so will likely be part of the city of Monmouth eventually, and traffic is likely to increase because of housing developments in that area, Whitaker said.
“I think there is an increasing need there, but we lack the resources in our budget to make that change,” he said.
At the same time, he said the county would entertain the idea if Monmouth put a grant application together to widen the road.
“You don’t just snap your fingers and solve that problem,” Whitaker said. “It takes years to develop.”