When federal, state and local funding for a new interchange on I-55 between Jackson and Cape Girardeau became available a few years ago, officials in both cities saw the potential for future development. With the completion of the interchange, Jackson's East Main Street provided easy access to I-55. And Cape Girardeau officials began construction of a street to connect the new interchange to Route W.
Earlier this month, LaSalle Avenue was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting and speeches. Of special note during the ceremony were the many references to the cooperation between the two cities in working with state and federal highway officials to make the project a reality.
Further cooperation came from Southeast Missouri State University, which owns the property -- the former university experimental farm -- on three quadrants of the interchange. Plans to develop the area for research, retail and housing have been held up by economic conditions.
LaSalle is a key part of what promises to become an area of major development. Improvements along the Route W access to Cape Girardeau would further enhance that area, along with the planned construction of an outer road system between the new interchange and the one to the south known as Center Junction.