Interchange No. 1 topic at joint Cape, Jackson meeting

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

There could be no doubt which city officials showed the most spirit at Monday night's joint meeting between the Cape Girardeau city council and the Jackson board of aldermen.

Mayor Paul Sander and the Jackson officials came dressed in red, their high school's trademark color, as they welcomed Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson and the neighboring delegation for the 10th annual meeting in what has become a friendly relationship between the two cities.

Tops on everyone's mind was the East Main Interchange project that will further connect the two cities. Mark Shelton from the Missouri Department of Transportation said work on the interchange should begin in August or September and should be completed by the end of 2007 with a final price tag of $8.3 million of state and federal dollars.

For Sander that is money well spent. "Any time you can positively benefit two cities, the county, the university, and all the citizens in your area, you have hit a home run," he said. Sander added this is probably the best joint project of its kind in the history of the state.

Both sides have lots of work to do before the project becomes a reality. Cape Girardeau must extend LaSalle Ave, and Jackson must extend East Main in order to create this corridor.

Shelton also cautioned that there will be delays and headaches during the construction on I-55 including several months of two-lane traffic along the new exit location.

The two boards also noted the securing of a $66,000 FEMA grant to connect the two water supplies. The plan, expected to be completed this year, will connect 4,000 feet of piping at a location along Lampe Road.

In the event of an emergency, water could be diverted through a manual valve from one city to the other at the rate of 1,200 gallons per minute.

Cordiality was the order of the day with each city's mayor commending the other's achievements. Sander said this discourse is important and recalled when it all began. "These meetings began as talks between Mayor [Al] Spradling and myself," he said. "We found out we didn't have that much to disagree about, and I found out he was a pretty good guy."

335-6611, extension 245

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