Jackson officials consider widening busy Hope Street

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

With several property owners on Hope Street rebuilding from the May 6 tornado, Jackson officials have decided now would be a good time to look at putting in a left-turn lane along the busy street.

The city has already had preliminary discussions with officials from the Immaculate Conception Church, the biggest property owner along the stretch. And, according to city administrator Jim Roach, the project probably wouldn't be a mammoth financial undertaking.

Roach said it doesn't appear that any buildings would have to be torn down.

"I would expect it would involve just widening the pavement, relocating some power poles and doing some striping," he said. "It seems like such a reasonable thing to do. It doesn't look like that complicated of a project. We just need some cooperation."

Monsignor Edward Eftink of Immaculate Conception said the school has extensive plans to rearrange the campus. Future plans could include building a gymnasium and another building for classrooms closer to Ohio Street than Hope. The gymnasium would be built on top of Madison Street, meaning the school would have to get the city to abandon that road.

Two buildings, including the gymnasium, that were damaged by the tornado would be torn down and made into parking lots. Eftink said he hopes the city would agree to put in a right-turn merging lane for traffic traveling north to get into the school's parking lot.

The stretch of Hope Street is arguably the most clogged section of street in the city, especially during the mornings and late afternoons.

Linda Puchbauer, who works at Prudential Financial in the Chamber of Commerce building at Hope and Main, favors widening the street.

"It would take congestion away from the intersection," she said. "During the peaks of the day, the intersection going north is blocked all the way to Dairy Queen. It's time-consuming."

The project would also need approval by the Missouri Department of Transportation because that part of Hope Street is also U.S. 61. Roach said MoDOT's role has not yet been defined in terms of cost, but MoDOT has not opposed the idea of adding another lane.

Left-turn lanes were mentioned as ways to relieve some congestion in the uptown district in the city's comprehensive traffic study performed by the Crawford, Bunte and Brammeier engineering firm.

Construction on Shawnee

Hope Street was particularly congested Monday, the first day that construction work closed down a block of Shawnee Boulevard between Old Cape Road and East Jackson Boulevard.

Detour signs are placed all around the city and much of the northbound traffic that would have used Shawnee instead moved west to Hope Street.

Some residents have voiced concerns on the city's plans to take the stop signs off Old Cape Road. Mayor Paul Sander said he and the members of the Jackson Board of Aldermen also are concerned about how the situation may play out.

He said the city would monitor the traffic flow after the construction work is completed and would consider replacing the stop signs if the traffic backup becomes overwhelmingly inconvenient.

Shawnee should reopen by July 3, said public works director Rodney Bollinger.



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