Cape Girardeau officials celebrate opening of LaSalle Avenue

Thursday, September 10, 2009
Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson speaks at a Wednesday morning ceremony marking the opening of LaSalle Avenue. (Bob Miller)

In something of a timeline manner, Cape Girardeau city officials celebrated the past and future cooperation, planning and execution of the LaSalle Avenue/East Main Street interchange late Wednesday morning.

Mayor Jay Knudtson, standing with the Interstate 55 overpass as a backdrop, stood atop the clean concrete road and reflected upon years of negotiations that led to the official opening of LaSalle Avenue. He and city manager Scott Meyer, who spoke later, also talked about what the road means to motorists now -- an artery road for people to access Cape Girardeau from the north to Route W -- and what it could mean to the region as the area develops at the interchange.

City officials dropped another piece of news on Wednesday: The speed limit on LaSalle Avenue will be 45 mph, 10 mph faster than signs posted when the road opened to traffic last Friday.

LaSalle Avenue has no feeder roads as landowner Dutch Meyr -- who was recognized by the mayor for his cooperation in land negotiations -- makes plans to develop his property. The speed will be re-evaluated when the property is developed.

The overall project, including the interchange, required cooperation from many organizations, and the mayor thanked those involved, including Dumey Construction, construction inspectors and officials from the county, city of Jackson and the Missouri Department of Transportation.

LaSalle Avenue, about two miles of road that connects with Route W, was paid for with Transportation Trust Fund III funds. It cost $3.4 million to build.

Meyer, who praised the cooperation that it took to accomplish the interchange and eventually LaSalle, said there's much more to be done.

"Now, the work begins," he said. "Now the transportation is in place. Now is when development begins to happen."

He said the same type of cooperation needed to build the interchange will be needed to develop it for the best benefit of the region.

LaSalle Avenue will eventually feed into an outer road called Veterans Memorial Drive, which will connect LaSalle Avenue with North Kingshighway near the Center Junction interchange. City engineer Kelly Green said bids for that project will be let sometime next year. Route W will also eventually be widened with improved shoulders as well. The bid for that project will be submitted later this month with potential completion date of December 2010.

Pertinent addresses:

LaSalle Avenue, Cape Girardeau

East Main Street, Jackson

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