Plans made to straighten out a sharp curve

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

A sharp S curve on Farrar Drive north of William Street would be straightened out this year to improve traffic safety as part of street improvements that would ultimately be paid for by four commercial businesses that own property bordering the road.

A private engineering firm is drawing up plans for the project. The work would be done this summer and fall, said Larry Westrich, vice president of Drury Southwest, which is in the commercial development business. "Hopefully it will be completed by late September or early October," he said Monday.

Westrich said the project includes widening two-lane Farrar Drive from its current width of 24 feet or less to a standard commercial width of 40 feet. The widening would extend about 550 feet south from the Drury Southwest building on Farrar Drive.

Westrich said the plan, which has yet to be approved by the Cape Girardeau City Council, calls for the city to pay for the street improvements and tax bill the cost to the adjacent property owners -- Drury Southwest, Midamerica Hotels Corp., Drury Industries and Bob Evans restaurant.

Still to be worked out is who would pay for relocation of Vantage Drive from its intersection with Farrar Drive just north of William Street, Westrich said.

The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to improve the Farrar Drive and William Street intersection, which includes adding traffic lights, widening Farrar Drive at the intersection and installing a concrete median.

Westrich said Vantage Drive's intersection with Farrar Drive will be relocated about 25 feet north of its current location so traffic no longer will empty onto the street close to the William Street intersection.

Since MoDOT plans to construct a median, it would prevent traffic on Vantage Drive from being able to turn left onto Farrar Drive. The city hopes to eventually turn Vantage Drive into an outer road running northward bordering Interstate 55. But that would make little sense if Vantage Drive emptied into a bottleneck on Farrar Drive near the William Street intersection.

"It would be a useless corridor if it didn't get realigned," Westrich said.

Both the Farrar Drive project and relocation of Vantage Drive should be worked out with the city soon.

City council to review

He said engineering plans should be presented to city staff later this week or the first part of next week.

A final agreement would have to be approved by the city council before any construction work would take place, city officials and Westrich said.

The council has yet to see a proposed development agreement regarding improvements to Farrar Drive, Mayor Jay Knudtson said.

Westrich said the total cost of improvements hasn't been set, but he and city officials estimated it would be a relatively low-cost project.

The street improvements are needed because travelers, exiting I-55, often use the street to reach nearby restaurants and motels, Westrich said. In addition, more motorists are using Farrar Drive now that it connects to Independence Street, he said.

Scott Meyer, MoDOT district engineer in Sikeston, said it would make sense to make the Farrar Drive improvements at the same time as the state is making improvement to William Street and the Farrar intersection. That work is scheduled to start later this summer and be completed by mid-November.

Mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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