Cape Girardeau council approves river projects in quick session Monday

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

In a quick session lasting about 45 minutes Monday, the Cape Girardeau City Council approved two river-related projects and fondly said farewell to two city employees.

The most notable project will transform the base of the old Mississippi River Bridge into a scenic overlook. The site will have parking and will connect to Terrace Park, a picnic area with a gazebo and benches.

Cape Girardeau will pay $83,896 of the $419,481 project. The Missouri Department of Transportation, through its Transportation Enhancement Funds program, will foot the remainder of the bill.

The project was stalled by high bids from contractors in the first round. On Aug. 29, the city received three bids that were $61,000 to $178,000 over the engineering department's estimate. The project was bid again in October, and Nip Kelley Equipment Co. came in with the low bid.

Mayor Jay Knudtson said earlier in the process the city came close to destroying the historic landmark. He's glad, though, a portion will be saved.

"If you ever want to do something cool, take people from out of town over the bridge, come back and just park in front of the old bridge. It's amazing. We even got campers over that thing," he said.

Demolished in 2004, the 76-year-old Mississippi River bridge was replaced by the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge.

The overlook project also includes an alternate bid if city officials choose to include decorative street lighting along Morgan Oak Street. The alternates increase the cost by about $52,000. The city would have to pay all of this cost and does not currently have money in the budget for the lighting.

The council also restricted boaters from mooring at the downtown riverfront for more than 24 hours without a permit. Excursion steamboats and federal or state craft are exempt.

City staff said higher traffic- demanded the change.

"I think it's good we have a need for this. It means there is more action down on the riverfront," said Councilwoman Loretta Schneider. The council also gave plaques to honor two retiring employees. Beckie Figliolo worked for the city for 39 years, most recently in Planning Services. J.D. King is a master firefighter who served for 32 years.

Both received standing ovations and gave short speeches.

tgreaney@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245

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