MoDOT's ears are open when it comes to the Ramsey Creek Bridge project, a proposed interchange south of Scott City and relieving traffic congestion on Interstate 55 in the Scott City area, agency officials say.
Monday night the state transportation agency held the first of two public meetings this week to discuss its traffic study of the I-55 corridor from Fruitland to Scott City. Another will be held Thursday at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center.
By 5 p.m., an hour before the end of the public meeting, about 50 people had been through the Scott City High School cafeteria. The meeting's primary purpose was a discussion of the traffic study, but in Scott City, another key point of discussion was the Ramsey Creek Bridge project and a proposed new I-55 intersection that could be constructed south of the city.
"The Ramsey Creek bridge is not enough on its own," said Scott City Mayor Tim Porch. "The southern interchange is the future of our town."
In its study of the I-55 corridor, MoDOT identified the area between Highway 74 and just south of Scott City as heavily congested, a condition that's only expected to get worse, according to the agency.
In the first public meeting where the Ramsey Creek project was discussed, locals got to see a map of the area being studied for construction. MoDOT is looking right now at building a road that will connect to Main Street between Blattel Street and Western Avenue, north of Main Street. The road would connect to the outer road on the eastern side of I-55 northbound, a road that services the city's industrial park but dead ends before Ramsey Creek.
MoDOT project manager Eric Krapf said MoDOT has identified an area of study for the project, but the agency is completely open to suggestions from locals, which is why Tuesday's meeting was important.
Those at the meeting were free to give their ideas. Some suggested a center turn lane on Main Street or moving the school, which sits next to the I-55, might be better solutions to relieve traffic than the bridge.
"They're making it too complicated," said one person who wished to remain anonymous.
Another called the plan "ridiculous."
One person who's lived in Scott City for 78 years called the project a waste of money, but said a new interchange south of the current one would be money well spent.
Others have more optimism that the Ramsey Creek Bridge project will help the city grow and relieve some congestion at the I-55 interchange.
"Anything would be a plus," said Jerald Hillman, who operates his business, Candles Unlimited, a little more than a block away from the interchange.
Krapf said criticism and suggestions like adding a center turn lane will be taken into account as the project moves forward. At the meeting MoDOT was handing out preaddressed, postage paid maps of the area for people to mark and write notes on and send to the agency's Sikeston offices.
Those maps are also available at www.modot.org/southeast.
335-6611, extension 182