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Bicentennial event, downtown traffic leads Cape Girardeau council discussion

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Oyez, oyez, oyez!" That's how Cape Girardeau's town crier Darryl Morgan called Monday's city council meeting to order. Dressed in tights and a tricorn hat, Morgan unfurled a scroll to announce the Feb. 3 re-enactment of the platting of Cape Girardeau which occurred 200 years ago on that day.

Morgan bellowed that city founder Louis Lorimier and his surveyor-secretary Bartholomew Cousins will be present at the event to officially incorporate the river city which, he said, "surely has a bright future." Morgan will be on Main Street the day of the bicentennial extolling the virtues of Cape Girardeau to all within shouting distance.

Traffic study

The majority of Monday's meeting, however, looked toward the future of the city. Council members are eager to move forward on the recommendations made by the downtown traffic study.

"I'm a little concerned about the time frame," said Mayor Jay Knudtson. "We need to move forward with this thing. Between Water, Spanish and Main, you have five lanes of traffic and four of them are going in the same direction. Now I'm no engineer, but that can't be right."

Council members were concerned that the time line suggested by the Planning and Zoning Commission, which would delay a vote on the traffic study to April or May, was too slow.

"People are saying, 'You all are taking way too long,'" said Councilwoman Evelyn Boardman during the study session.

Part of the sense of urgency comes from recent unanimous approval of the traffic study findings by Old Town Cape and the Downtown Redevelopment Group.

For Knudtson, support from these two bodies signals a green light for the proposal that recommends making Main Street two way from Broadway to William Street in order to provide easier downtown access for shoppers and visitors. "This thing has been beat about enough that I'm going to propose we close in that time frame," said Knudtson during the study session. "I'm not sure anything good is going to come of P&Z taking three or four more months to look at it."

The council requested that the planning and zoning commission submit a recommendation by the Feb. 21 city council meeting.

According to city inspection services, 2005 was a record year for home construction in Cape Girardeau, said Knudtson. The city issued 128 single family residence permits and this growth represented $20 million of the $64 million total construction in the city. No new permits were issued for apartment dwellings.

tgreaney@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245


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