MoDOT: Highway 34/72 project ready to enter next phase

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Missouri Department of Transportation officials will observe the start of the second phase of the Highway 34/72 improvement project today with a groundbreaking ceremony.

The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at Pioneer Market in Jackson. Speakers will include state Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, state Rep. Scott Lipke, R-Jackson, Jackson Mayor Paul Sander and Marybeth Williams, president of Jackson's Chamber of Commerce.

Phase two of the project includes widening and resurfacing the roadway from County Road 335 to the intersection at West Main Street and Cathy Drive. Sidewalks will also be constructed along a portion of the road. Traffic signals will be installed at the Route D and Farmington Road intersection in Jackson.

MoDOT project manager Eric Krapf said he is looking forward to the start of construction on the second phase of the three-mile upgrade project.

"This is a good project, and the improvements are badly needed," he said. "That stretch of road gets a lot of traffic, and this is the chance to enhance the safety."

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission rejected bids last November for the second phase of the project, citing the bids exceeded the estimated price. But last month, the commission awarded the construction contract to Penzel Construction Company Inc. of Jackson, which had the lowest and same initial bid in November.

Penzel was awarded the more than $7.9 million contract. The project was estimated to cost approximately $5.2 million, but a year lapsed from the time of the original estimate and the time when the project went out for bids. During that time, asphalt costs doubled, Krapf said.

Despite the rejection of the initial bids, the Highway 34/72 widening project is on schedule. Phase one of the project, which begins at the intersection of Highway 34 and West Main Street and ends at County Road 335, was completed earlier this year.

Krapf said he has received positive feedback about the completed first phase.

"I think a lot of people early on had fears of what this would look like," he said. "But it's really an improvement to that road."

Phase three, which is 1 1/2 miles east of the Highway 34/72 intersection, is planned for fiscal year 2008. The entire project should be completed by the middle of 2009.

The groundbreaking ceremony will be moved inside of Pioneer Market in case of bad weather.

jfreeze@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

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