MoDOT looks to ease traffic congestion on William

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Missouri Department of Transportation officials hope to draw up plans to alleviate traffic congestion in front of the Holiday Inn in Cape Girardeau.

Scott Meyer, MoDOT's district engineer in Sikeston, Mo., told the Cape Girardeau City Council on Monday night that any improvements need to be made in conjunction with new commercial development planned for the area.

MidAmerica Hotels Corp. plans to tear down its 188-room Holiday Inn and replace it with a $6 million, four-story Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites that will have 102 rooms. The new development will leave space for other commercial ventures including as many as five new restaurants, the Cape Girardeau company has said.

At a study session on traffic problems and road projects, Meyer told the council that MoDOT is considering the possibility of installing traffic signals at Farrar Drive and William Street as well as a second left-turn lane on William Street for traffic turning north onto Mount Auburn Road.

The William Street area just east of Interstate 55 is home to several hotels and restaurants and close to some of the city's busiest shopping areas.

Meyer said he has discussed the problem with city staff and an engineer with MidAmerica Hotels.

'A three-way street'

"This has to be a three-way street," Mayor Jay Knudtson said. The city, MoDOT and MidAmerica must all work together to address the traffic congestion.

Meyer said it's a safety concern. "There are a fair number of accidents there," he said. "It's surprising it's not higher."

Traffic improvement plans need to be drawn up this year so they will fit in with the commercial construction, he said. The current Holiday Inn is scheduled to close in early September. It will be replaced by a new hotel that is scheduled to open in late 2004.

The council and Meyer also discussed:

The Mississippi River bridge project. Meyer said he hopes to have traffic rolling across the new span before the end of the year. Meyer said he didn't want to have to maintain the existing 75-year-old bridge through another winter. The old bridge will be razed to meet federal Corps of Engineers requirements.

Traffic congestion at Kingshighway and Cape Rock Drive. Councilman Matt Hopkins wants the state to add a right-turn lane on northbound Kingshighway to allow motorists to turn onto Cape Rock without backing up straight-ahead traffic. Meyer said that can't happen unless Kingsway, which connects to Cape Rock Drive just east of the intersection, is closed off. It's been considered in the past but been rejected because of opposition from St. Andrew Lutheran Church, which sits at Cape Rock Drive and Kingsway, officials said.

The Mount Auburn Road and Kingshighway intersection. City officials want the state to consider extending the right-turn lane for motorists turning from Mount Auburn onto Kingshighway heading south into the city.

Traffic on Route K near Notre Dame Regional High School. The state has lowered the speed limit to 45 mph in front of the school and the speed could be reduced another 10 miles per hour if the school wants to install flashing yellow lights that could be activated by the school, Meyer said.

Meyer said his staff will look at the feasibility and cost of the various road improvement projects suggested by council members.

335-6611, extension 123

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