What is likely to become the biggest economic development project in this region is taking shape along I-55 between Cape Girardeau and Jackson. It is the new interchange that will connect the interstate with Jackson's East Main Street and with Cape Girardeau's planned LaSalle Avenue. Much of the property around the interchange is what used to be Southeast Missouri State University's demonstration farm. Consultants are developing plans for a major retail area, recreation facilities and a research park.
As many Southeast Missouri motorists have discovered during trips to St. Louis in recent years, major highway projects can cause significant delays as traffic is diverted or funneled into fewer lanes to give construction crews a safer work environment. Soon, traffic on I-55 will experience those same constraints as vehicles are detoured onto what will become on- and off-ramps for the new interchange during construction.
Motorists are advised to seek alternate routes or plan for delays on the interstate. In addition, motorists are reminded that the safety of construction workers is a critical factor. Stiff penalties are in place for motorists who speed in highway construction zones or injure a construction worker.
Plan ahead. Slow down. Drive with caution. In a few months, the interchange will be completed and development that will add to this area's importance as a regional hub will begin in earnest. In the meantime, drive safely and responsibly.