MoDOT to turn attention to bettering bridge system

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The early completion of the Missouri Department of Transportation's Smooth Roads Initiative won't expedite other projects in the immediate Cape Girardeau area but will allow MoDOT to focus on improvements to other roads in the Southeast Missouri district.

District engineer Mark Shelton said Monday that MoDOT's Southeast Missouri district office will now concentrate on two other major repaving projects in the district -- Interstate 155 near Caruthersville and U.S. 60 between Dexter and Sikeston. The district will also focus on MoDOT's next large-scale initiative to improve bad bridges across the state.

That project will repair or replace 802 of the state's worst bridges by 2012, MoDOT says. Eighty-two of those bridges are within the jurisdiction of the Southeast Missouri district office.

Major projects include the U.S. 61 bridge at Ramsey Creek in Cape Girardeau County; two bridges over the Whitewater River and one over Byrd Creek along Highway 34 in Cape Girardeau County; and several bridges along U.S. 60.

As for two other ongoing projects in the area -- the East Main Street interchange on Interstate 55 in Jackson and the Ramsey Creek Bridge project in Scott City -- Shelton said the completion of the Smooth Roads Initiative will have no impact on those projects.

The Jackson project should be completed by spring 2008. The project was originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2007, but Shelton said a rainy fall this year delayed the contractor's start time.

The Ramsey Creek project will take longer. Shelton said that project, which will connect Scott City's industrial park and residential center, is still in its earliest stages. An environmental assessment and a series of public hearings will be required before any physical work can start on the project. The assessment alone could take up to 18 months to complete.

However, local funding sources have been confirmed to match the $5 million in federal funds dedicated to the project last year. Local matches include $100,000 in grant funding from the Delta Regional Authority, $100,000 in existing federal funds for local transportation improvements and $225,000 to be paid by Scott City. The city has also agreed to take over portions of state-maintained roads around the city.

Local governments can help accelerate the process, Shelton said.

"When local partners come together with some funds, that always helps speed things up," Shelton said. "I've just been thoroughly impressed with support we've had with communities in Southeast Missouri."

-- Matt Sanders

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