Cape Co. wants to divert industrial park road

Friday, October 27, 2006

MoDOT said the county has to come up with $530,000 or take over another road to pay for the change.

By SCOTT MOYERS

Southeast Missourian

The Cape Girardeau County Commission wants a proposed 3.75-mile extension of Nash Road to go around 389 acres of prime industrial development property, not through it. But that change to the Missouri Department of Transportation plan could cost the county more than half a million dollars.

The county commission wants the extension to go around the property regardless of whether an ethanol plant proposed by developer Phil Danforth goes forward on the land or the property is used for something else entirely.

"We don't want to split that property," Commissioner Larry Bock said Thursday. "I'm not commenting about an ethanol plant that's been in the works, for how many years? I don't know what Phil's up to. We just want to preserve this tract."

On Thursday, commissioners heard from Andy Meyer, project manager for the MoDOT. Meyer is overseeing the proposed road project, which originally would have extended Nash Road 3.75 miles beyond its terminus near BioKyowa's production facility to intersect with Highway 25, splitting the adjacent 389 acres into two diagonal parcels.

The project was originally scheduled for completion this year.

The commission asked MoDOT to come up with a plan that would preserve the tract for future development, regardless of type. The commission wants the extension to run around the perimeter of the property, improving prospects for future development.

The modified plan calls for Nash Road to be adjusted south and east along the property's perimeter, which leaves the acreage whole, Meyer said.

Without the modification, the extension is estimated to cost $4.9 million, with $1.6 million coming from local funds. Meyer said the changes would add $530,000 to the cost.

That extra money would be used to build the embankment, for construction of the connection to County Road 218 and to pay for additional paving, Meyer said.

The county either has to come up with more than half a million dollars, Meyer said, or choose the other option -- take over the maintenance of another road to help defray the state's costs of building the modified extension. "It's sort of shuffling things around," Meyer said.

Meyer suggested three roads to choose from -- portions of Route J, the Interstate 55 outer road and Route F. All of those sections would be 2 miles or less.

The Nash Road work is expected to be put out to bid in the fall of 2007, and construction is expected to start the following year.

Bock said the commission will look at all the options.

"We'd have to see what money's available," he said. "We'll look at which roads are involved. It might be one of the roads they suggested or a different one. But the whole idea is to do whatever's the lowest cost with the best results."

Danforth, who has proposed the ethanol plant on 100 of the acres the site, lives in Leawood, Kan. Attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

Danforth has been working on the plan with Mitch Robinson, executive director of the Cape Girardeau Area Magnet, a not-for-profit economic development group. Robinson's group holds the option to buy the 389 acres, which is the Phegley Farms property. Robinson said Thursday he had just learned of MoDOT's request and didn't know much about it yet. But he said moving the road is a good idea rather than ruining "an excellent industrial site."

"Our hopes are to get this done," Robinson said. "But time will tell, I guess."

Danforth's plans are moving forward, though Robinson said he understands that people have grown skeptical after four years of talk. Danforth is working on securing the funding to build the $150 million, 100-million-gallon ethanol plant, Robinson said.

He said the Cape Girardeau Area Magnet expects to act on the option to buy the property before it expires at the end of the year. He believes the ethanol plant will be built but declined to estimate when construction would start.

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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