When the construction barriers came down on North Main Street, some who drive the Cape Girardeau stretch every day were surprised to see the historic sharp kink was reduced to a smooth curve, but the road isn't completely straight.
"It's a lot better than it was, but it's still crooked," said Steve Wilkinson, who works at the Cape Restaurant Service garage just north of the Mill Street intersection. "I don't know why they didn't just make it straight."
The simple answer is cost, city planner Kent Bratton said.
North Main, heading north from downtown, took a hard left and then a hard right to get around the old Florsheim Shoe Factory, constructed in 1907. Bratton theorizes city officials at the time were so happy to have the economic development that they gladly jogged the street around the factory.
But to completely straighten it today would mean relocating utility lines and tearing up the remaining concrete foundation of the shoe factory, razed in 1990.
"We had to do a small amount of relocating, but nothing on the magnitude of what you'd have to do to make it straight," Bratton said.
Several accidents caused by drivers who took the old North Main Street curve too fast prompted city officials to undertake the project.
Fronabarger Concreters Inc. began realignment work in November, and the barriers came down Feb. 14, said Abdul Alkadry, a civil engineer with the city. All that's left is repairing a short section of curb damaged during construction, bringing in a few loads of dirt and seeding the area with grass.
Alkadry said the $62,623 project stayed on budget and went as smoothly as could be expected, with a few major snow and ice storms interrupting progress.
It was a capital improvement project paid for with motor fuel tax funds. The tax is 17.9 cents per gallon in Missouri, collected by the state and then divided among local governments, city finance director John Richbourg said.
335-6611, extension 121