The time has arrived for a dangerous coil of Snake Hill Road to get straightened out.
In early March 2003, the Cape Special Road District began chopping down trees to make way for a safer, straighter path to replace a sharp turn of Cape Rock Drive at the foot of its winding way up Snake Hill. District officials announced Monday that beginning today, that portion of Cape Rock Drive will be closed for two to three weeks to allow road crews to finish the job.
District engineer Ralph Phillips said the road kink in question, just outside the Cape Girardeau city limits, is especially treacherous in wet weather. A resident of that area, Phillips said that the curve has been the site of some "pretty bad" car accidents, and that spurred plans to tame part of the curvy road.
Once the trees were cleared, the road district -- which is picking up the tab for the entire project -- set to filling in the ravine that caused the drastic road diversion when the road was built in the 1930s. Now that the road is closed to traffic, that dirt work can be completed and the new stretch of road can be paved.
In addition to the wilderness, the district has had to fight through some mild public protest to get to this point. At the time it was first announced, some in the community spoke out against changing the 70-year-old stretch of meandering roadway between the city limits and its intersection with Old Sprigg Street north of town. But, even some of those who've dissented acknowledge the danger of this particular part of the road and reluctantly accept the need to fix it.
Wanda Seyer has lived less than half a mile past the bottom of Snake Hill Road for the past 39 years. She said that while she doesn't want the entire serpentine road replaced, she knows that this curve probably needs to be fixed.
"It gets pretty hazardous in the wintertime," Seyer said. "It even gets pretty slick in the rain. At the speed people come down that hill, it's dangerous."
Phillips said he's heard little outcry in the months following the initial announcement.
Aside from the danger the bend poses to motorists, Mike Bragg of the Cape Special Road District said, the straightening of the road will make it much easier to service. Bragg said that as is, this stretch of road is particularly hard to maintain and lay asphalt on.
Snake Hill Road will remain open to local traffic during the closure. Through traffic will be diverted along Old Sprigg Street and Lexington Avenue.
335-6611, extension 137