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Solution to the Bloomfield Road dilemma

Posted Monday, December 28, 2009, at 3:45 PM

True or False? Cape Girardeau is the home to a major four-lane highway that comes to a sudden end with a "PAVEMENT ENDS" sign.

No kidding, the answer is true. From the Emerson Bridge, take "new" Highway 74 westbound across town to the I-55 interchange. Just past the interchange, the highway comes to an immediate end.

This dead-end stub was intended to be used for future development. When the Emerson Bridge was under construction, there was hope that the highway corridor could be incorporated into the proposed transcontinental Interstate 66 project. That's still a possibility, but even if the stars aligned, it would be many years away.

The Missouri Department of Transportation also considered building a Highway 34/72 southern bypass around Jackson that would drop down and connect with the Highway 74 stub. That plan was shelved because it would wipe out too many houses and neighborhoods.

So now we're left with a dangling Highway to Nowhere. Meanwhile, just a short distance to the west, lies Bloomfield Road, the scenic and historic road that has become a congested nightmare. Plans to widen and improve the road have met considerable opposition (see letters here, here and here).

The road is clearly unsafe for the level of traffic it serves. Strictly enforcing the 35 MPH speed limit, as some have suggested, does not solve the problem: Bloomfield Road is unsafe at any speed. Improving the road, however, will diminish its scenic and historic qualities. (See Snake Hill for an example of what might happen.)

The answer to the dilemma is right under our noses: Extend Highway 74 as a bypass. From the I-55 interchange, the new highway would turn southward, running parallel to Bloomfield Road. It would connect with "old" Highway 74, so commuters would no longer have a reason to use Bloomfield Road as a short cut.

If, by some miracle, the city ever has a budget surplus, the road could be extended across the Diversion Channel and down to Nash Road, providing an alternative to the chaos between Cape and Scott City on I-55.

In the map below, Bloomfield Road is shown in blue and the proposed new highway in red:

View larger map

The present state of affairs, with a four-lane highway coming to a dead-end, is downright silly. If MoDOT doesn't have any plans for this highway stub, then the city should take advantage of the situation. It makes more sense to build a new road from scratch rather than to destroy a rare treasure like Bloomfield Road.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]


-- Posted by gibsongirl on Mon, Dec 28, 2009, at 3:59 PM

The last time I was in Cape I mentioned to my mother that I wondered how long it would be before they four-laned or six-laned Bloomfield Rd.

It's one of the last scenic roads left in town with a beautiful canopy of trees shading it. It brings back memories of when Highway 61 between Cape and Jackson was called the 7-Mile Garden. It had rose bushes planted on the road side and the trees formed a green tunnel through long stretches of it.

Wide roads only encourage more development, which encourages more road widening.

I have no sympathy for folks who buy homes near an airport or a railroad line and then complain about the noise. I have equally no sympathy for folks who had to drive on Bloomfield Rd. when they went to look for their MacMansion and then complain that it's too narrow.

And don't even get me started on the short-sighted decision to get rid of Mt. Tabor Park in that area.

Slow down. That's all it takes.

-- Posted by ksteinhoff on Mon, Dec 28, 2009, at 6:05 PM

Nah, they'll never extend 74 in such a logical manner---that makes too much sense. Bloomfield Road will soon be just more "development-fodder", making the option of selling-out to the highest bidder it's only option.

(Remember "Asphalt Acres", James??? HA!)

Unfortunately, those of us who feel that way today are being forced-into such situations more each passing year, because it's no longer worth the cost of the fight, be it mental or physical.

"But it's what's best for the future of this developing county!", they tell us.

Maybe. But then why must it always boil-down to dollar $ign$, in the end...?

-- Posted by donknome-2 on Tue, Dec 29, 2009, at 10:25 AM

At first I was going to point out that your proposed 74 route meets up with the old 74 just a hop, skip and jump from where you can turn off 74 to come into Cape anyway, which seems unnecessary. But then I remembered the condition of the street you have to use to come into Cape from that direction. I don't know the name, but it's the street behind Younghouse that runs in front of some type of gravel place or quarry. So, it seems to me that someone could create at least ONE decent non-interstate route into Cape Girardeau! I personally have never had any problems on Bloomfield Road, and I've been coming to and from work on that road every day for 5 years, but then again I realize that a lot of people simply don't know how to drive! So couldn't they, at the VERY LEAST, improve the condition of that one little non-residential street to provide an acceptable alternative to Bloomfield Road?

-- Posted by MusicMaker on Tue, Dec 29, 2009, at 1:14 PM

MusicMaker: I thought about that, too. The southern interchange between I-55 and Highway 74 is rather complicated, which might scare some drivers away. The bad pavement on the connector road (Old Highway 61) doesn't help.

Let's say you're coming from Chaffee and want to go to Wal-Mart. From the intersection of Bloomfield Road and Highway 74, the distance to Wal-Mart is 3.1 miles (according to Google) and involves two stoplights. If you instead continue on Highway 74 and then use side streets to reach Siemers Drive, the distance is roughly 5.5 miles and involves at least four stoplights, depending on the exact route.

So it's no surprise that many people now prefer Bloomfield Road.

-- Posted by James Baughn on Tue, Dec 29, 2009, at 2:27 PM

You're right -- the difference between 3.1 and 5.5 miles is significant, so it's no wonder those of us who travel to Cape from the southwest are taking Bloomfield Road.

However, I do not see why we can't be responsible enough to honor the 35 m.p.h. speed limit and avoid the road in bad weather. It just takes a little bit of planning. It would certainly be worth it to spare such a beautiful road!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jan 12, 2010, at 8:50 PM

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The webmaster of seMissourian.com and its sister newspapers, James Baughn has lost track of the number of websites he manages. On the side, he maintains even more sites, including Bridgehunter.com, LandmarkHunter.com, TheCapeRock.com, and Humorix.
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