It was reported last week that the City of Cape Girardeau is planning to spend $2.85 million in Transportation Trust Fund IV sales tax money to widen Broadway from Pacific to Water Street.
I had an immediate one-word reaction to that news:
Has anyone from the city driven Broadway in, say, the last 50 years? There are buildings on both sides as well as parking for most of those eight blocks. Unlike the previous Upper Broadway expansion that was done a few years ago, there's not a lot of room for expansion on Low-Bro unless the plans are to raze the buildings on one side of the street.
I imagine the city's plan is to shave a foot or two off the existing sidewalks to make the driving lanes a bit more spacious. Wide driving lanes for what will likely be the main thoroughfare to the future downtown location of the Isle of Capri casino are unquestionably a necessity. The city must prepare itself for the octogenarian onslaught driving some of the biggest vehicles that have ever rolled out of the Motor City. We need a roomy road to the riverfront for everyone's safety.
While it does seem like a huge amount of money to spend on essentially vehicular "elbow" room and one might think those costs are completely out of line, just drive down Lower Broadway. The more than thirty utility poles that sit inches from the south side of the street will undoubtedly have to be relocated. I'm not exactly sure where these poles will be put on our New & Improved Low Bro, but they certainly won't be cheap to move.
Unfortunately, previous efforts to beautify the thoroughfare will likely have to bite the dust in the name of progress. Decorative trees planted a few years ago in the 300 and 400 blocks whose trunks are within a foot of the street are sure to be goners.
Of course, I could be wrong on the whole matter. Considering the significance of the future casino on Cape Girardeau's financial future, perhaps the City is instead going to eliminate parking on both sides of Broadway rather than pare down the existing sidewalks.
This would allow two lanes of traffic in each direction. Anyone who wants to go to a business located on the thoroughfare will just need to park on one of the side streets and walk. It would be an "Animal Farm-esque" situation. All businesses are equal, just some are more equal than others.
But of course, that's just crazy talk. The city would never do something to favor one business over another...
I just hope this widening project does not drag out for months. Consumers tend to avoid areas where they know extensive road construction is taking place and that could decimate the small businesses which line much of the eight blocks.
NOTE - After posting this particular blog, which was based on the newspaper coverage of the City Council Meeting from last Monday, it was brought to my attention that Low-Bro may not actually be widened. While the minutes from March 7 City Council Meeting are not yet currently available, a City Powerpoint presentation from August 2010 regarding specific Transportation Tax Fund 4 projects says that the work on Broadway involves "curb, gutter, sidewalk and overlay." It doesn't mention widening.