Detours ahead for Cape drivers

Friday, May 30, 2003

and Mike Wells ~ Southeast Missourian

As temperatures get warmer and new growth sprouts, drivers can expect to see more detour signs and orange traffic cones pop up on Cape Girardeau streets as street-widening and sewer projects continue to start and stop. But despite the increase in traffic congestion and cone dodging, many drivers call the work signs of progress.

For weeks, those traveling the easternmost portion of William Street have adjusted as crews laid new pavement between Sprigg to Water streets. This week, drivers also faced closed portions of East Rodney and Silver Springs and additional street widening work on Mount Auburn.

Before the work along William Street, Kelli Suhre took Frederick Street to her job at St. Mary's Early Education Center. When the project first began, she altered her route to Good Hope Street. But Thursday's detour took her blocks away to the riverfront just to get around it.

"It was a pain," she said, "But I knew it wasn't going to last and that it was going to be better off in the long run."

Suhre said she witnessed three car accidents at the William and Sprigg intersection before the project began. She hopes the project will improve traffic conditions.

Additional construction work will continue this summer, including includes repairs and asphalt overlay for 24 other Cape Girardeau streets, said assistant city engineer Melanie Gertis. That $475,000 project has not been assigned a schedule, but it is expected to begin in June with milling, patching and curb and gutter work. In July, workers from Apex Paving Co. will lay down asphalt and motorists can resume using those streets after a couple days, depending on the weather.

It is up to contractors to decide when detours are put up and to notify the city, which publicizes them, said city engineer Mark Lester. A one-day closing of the Sprigg and William intersection Wednesday through Thursday rerouted the regular traffic of about 20,000 vehicles.

William Street should be re-opened to all traffic by Tuesday, Lester said. Crews could finish cleanup and sidewalk work ahead of a schedule within another week.

The William Street project is part of a $500,000 plan to attract more traffic to downtown. It was funded by the Transportation Trust Fund that was drawn up in 1995. Nip Kelley Trucking and Equipment Co., the contractor, began the project in May 2002 with tree limb removal.

Neighborhood resident Jack Proffer has lived on the corner of William and Lorimier streets for 11 years and has opposed the project.

"All they had to do was prohibit parking and they would have gotten their two extra lanes," he said.

But some drivers see benefits.

"It's going to help the park and make the neighborhood look better," said Clemmie Lane, who often takes his children to Indian Park at William and Lorimier. "Once I knew what they were doing, I kind of stayed away from down there."

Crews are continuing to widen the portion of Mount Auburn between William and Independence streets, used by about 16,200 drivers daily. An additional 6 feet of width has been put in by Lappe Cement Finishing. The $380,000 project began in February and should end by mid-October with new traffic light signals at the Independence intersection.

A new turn lane off Mount Auburn into St. Francis Medical Center's employee entrance was recently finished by the city, Gertis said. The hospital paid for the construction. However, the driveway's surface was still being poured Thursday on hospital property. The entrance should be open in the next couple of weeks, depending on the hospital's needs, she said. An older employee entrance, located less than a block south along Mount Auburn, is expected to be closed at that time.

East Rodney Drive, south of Kingshighway, is closed temporarily due to an ongoing sewer project. It should be re-opened after two more weeks, Gertis said. Next week, Peach Tree Street, between Kingsway and Fairlane, will be closed for additional sewer work. A new release line is being installed to compensate for increased usage on the north side of town.

Silver Springs Road at Central High School is currently a dead end with no outlet to Kingshighway, Gertis said. The older section of Silver Springs exiting from Kingshighway is also a dead end. A portion of the old section will be demolished in the near future.

335-6611, extension 226

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

PAVING PROJECT

No schedule is available, but the following Cape Girardeau streets will be affected during paving this summer:

Marsha Kay Drive -- U.S. 61 to Cape Rock Drive

Whitelaw Avenue -- Broadway to Woodlawn Avenue

Pemiscot Street -- Missouri Avenue to Perry Avenue

Frederick Street -- North Street to Washington Avenue

Whitener Street -- West End Boulevard to Louisiana Avenue

Themis Street -- West End Boulevard to Louisiana Avenue

Harmony Street -- West End Boulevard to Henderson Avenue

Luce Street -- West End Boulevard to Louisiana Avenue

West End Boulevard -- Shawnee Parkway to Southern Expressway

Henderson Avenue -- Jefferson Avenue to College Street

Jefferson Avenue -- Benton Street to West End Boulevard

Giboney Avenue -- Elm Street to Sprigg Street

Pacific Street -- Normal Avenue to Cheney Drive

Benton Street -- Maple Street to fence at Highway 74

Niemann Drive -- Perryville Road to Clark Avenue (including James Court and Martin Court)

West Rodney Drive -- East Rodney Drive to Hopper Road

Perry Avenue -- Perryville Road to Alley and from Wayne Street to end

John E. Godwin Jr. Memorial Drive -- Airport Road to Airport Access Road

Alley -- Fifth Street to Johnson Street between Water Street and Main Street

Alley -- New Madrid Street to Mississippi between West End Boulevard and Illinois Avenue

Hanover Street -- Good Hope Street to Bloomfield Road

Good Hope -- Benton Street intersection to Hanover Street

Gordonville Road -- Mount Auburn Road to St. Francis Drive

Pindwood Lane -- south of Independence to end

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