Public restrooms, extension of River Walk in downtown Cape nearly complete

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Kenny Buerck directs a concrete pour with a crew from Mike Light Cement Finishing of Perryville, Mo., Monday along the River Walk at the Cape Girardeau riverfront. (Fred Lynch)

Within a few weeks, if the weather cooperates, two additions to the downtown Cape Girardeau landscape should be ready for use.

Employees of Mike Light Concrete Finishing have almost completed their work on the River Walk extension, a $453,000 project that extends the current biking and walking path along the Mississippi River to Sloan Creek north of downtown. And Nip Kelley Equipment Co. is close to finishing the new public restrooms between Main Street and Water Street on Broadway, part of a $371,000 parking lot project next to the floodwall.

Light's employees are putting a concrete edging wall along the extension, which is under city contract to Lappe Cement Finishing of Perryville, Mo. City officials expect the walkway to be ready for use in about four weeks.

Lappe will then complete the final 450 feet of the walkway itself, which has been delayed repeatedly in the spring and summer as rain and the river combined to halt construction. Much of the work is already in place. Work began at the north end of the extension and has worked south to join the existing River Walk.

On Monday, Steve Fornkohl piloted his Delta Cos. cement truck backward from the Broadway floodgate to the construction site to pour the foundation for the edge wall. He said each of the company's drivers has made eight to 10 of the reverse trips, guiding their big machines past benches and the metal steps at the Kidd's Oil fuel dock.

"It's kind of like a big obstacle course," Fornkohl said. "These trucks are just about the biggest thing you can put down here."

The drive has become easier as the new walkway has inched closer to completion, he said.

The walk has been built from the north to avoid having the heavy trucks driving over recently poured concrete, said Ken Eftink, assistant city manager.

The delays were unavoidable, and Monday both city officials and the contractors had their eyes on the river, which has risen about 16 feet since late last week. Even if the river doesn't cover the construction site, a further rise would stop construction because the ground underneath would become saturated. "That is what has slowed it up the most," said Mike Light as the Monday concrete pour was completed.

At the public restrooms, the finishing touches needed include sealing the concrete floor, installation of plumbing fixtures and landscaping, Eftink said.

Workers were placing park benches and installing bicycle racks Monday.

Additional work to be done includes placing exterior lights, including additional poles in the parking area, and installing security cameras that will help keep the restroom area safe, Eftink said. Opening of the restrooms to public use won't be delayed by that work, he said.

The security cameras will help identify anyone trying to break into cars or vandalize the new restrooms, Eftink said.

The next extension of the River Walk could be underway soon. U.S. Sen. Kit Bond included $1.6 million for a bridge over Sloan Creek in the federal transportation appropriations bill that is awaiting final work in Congress.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

10 E. Broadway, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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