Interchange expected to top joint Cape, Jackson agenda

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cape Girardeau and Jackson city officials plan to give updates on several major projects when they hold a joint meeting today.

With funding secure for the future East Main Street/LaSalle Avenue Interchange project on Interstate 55, Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson and Jackson Mayor Paul Sander said it's time to work out the final details of the project.

"More specifically how the city of Cape Girardeau will bring LaSalle to the interchange and how Jackson will extend East Main, as well as constructing outer roads along the interstate," Knudtson said. "As we work with the Missouri Department of Transportation, and understand what the other city is doing, then we can make sure we're in step with each other."

Sander said the interchange project will be the main item the two cities plan to discuss for at least another year. Construction on the interchange will begin as early as October.

"This is the biggest thing we've ever accomplished from these meetings and it will impact both communities, as well as the entire county," Sander said about the interchange. "Never before in Missouri had this many entities -- both cities, the county and Southeast Missouri State University -- come together to move forward with a project like this."

By joining together on big projects, both Cape Girardeau and Jackson carry more weight when lobbying with the Missouri Department of Transportation, Sander said.

The councils will also receive an update of an emergency water system interconnection between the two cities. When constructed, an emergency water supply will be located at the Center Junction Interchange and will be an available source in the event of a natural disaster.

Sander said the cities received a grant to fund the project and by next year construction is expected to begin.

"It's one of those things nobody will think much of it until you need it," Sander said.

Tonight's meeting will include a report updating the building codes in Cape Girardeau and Jackson.

Officials in both cities said consistency in building codes serves the public since many architects, engineers, residential designers and contractors work in both Jackson and Cape Girardeau.

"The more consistencies we can develop, the more we can make sure we're a united community," Knudtson said.

The two city's have been meeting annually since 1998 when Sander along with former Cape Girardeau Mayor Al Spradling III began to discuss items of mutual interest.

"We are both very distinct and separate communities but we are two communities whose city limits meet at the interstate," Sander said. "It's in our best interest for us to work together to benefit everyone,"

Knudtson said he's proud to carry on the tradition of the joint meetings that Spradling and Sander began.

"I think these meetings are really representative of the tremendous working relationship the two cities have," Knudtson said.

While Jackson and Cape Girardeau remain friendly rivals in high school sports, the two largest communities in Cape Girardeau County have found ways to work together to benefit business, development, construction and road improvements, Sander said.

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