New LaSalle Ave. requires easements

Sunday, May 27, 2007

City engineers have a definite route they'd like LaSalle Avenue to take -- a nearly straight shot from the site of the new East Main Street Interstate 55 interchange to Route W. The next step in the process is to acquire the land needed for construction.

The Cape Girardeau City Council gave the city engineering department the go-ahead to acquire the easements at Monday night's council meeting. The city is seeking parcels of various sizes from Ryland and Margaret Meyr, Southeast Missouri State University, Nowald Inc., Donald and Joy Froemsdorf, the Norman H. Weiss family trust, and Mark and Dora McDowell.

City engineer Jay Stencel said so far the city has done nothing more than have preliminary meetings with the landowners.

The Southeast Missourian was unable to contact the landowners, but Stencel said he thinks the property acquisition process will run smoothly, because all the land along the corridor is undeveloped.

The property owners all have known for some time the city would seek to acquire property from them for construction, Stencel said.

City manager Doug Leslie said the property owners will most likely see a benefit from the building of LaSalle Avenue, because the land is undeveloped.

"I think the road improvements will greatly improve access out in that area and should enhance property values and be a positive for the entire area," Leslie said.

LaSalle's planned route was determined in December -- the second route proposed. The original route would have disrupted already developed areas, Stencel said, and even may have required the removal of at least one home. Under the old plan, LaSalle Avenue would have been winding like a county road, Stencel said.

Under the new design, LaSalle Avenue will be a much more direct route, capable of safe travel at 45 miles per hour. The first 2,000 feet of the road will be a four-lane, boulevard-style street. The rest of the nearly two-mile-long route will be two lanes with wide shoulders, but the city is acquiring enough land to later expand the road to four lanes throughout.

Stencel said construction might start by late fall, with completion coinciding with the opening of the new interchange in fall 2008. The design should be completed by August, Stencel said.

The estimated cost of the project, to be paid for through the Transportation Trust Fund, has risen from $3.13 million to $3.5 million due to increases in the price of construction materials tied to rising fuel costs.

335-6611, extension 182

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