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County commission to organize public hearings on creating Bloomfield Road speed limit

Friday, February 19, 2010

Speed is measured along a stretch of Cape Girardeau County Road 205, which has a 35 mph speed limit.
(Fred Lynch)
Cape Girardeau County District 1 Commissioner Paul Koeper has long considered County Road 205, known for frequent accidents and speeding vehicles, a "problem child."

Now, Koeper and other officials want the speed limit between Benton Hill Road and Highway 74 changed to 35 mph.

"Every time law enforcement thinks about it raining, there's an accident there," Koeper said. "We as a county can adopt speed limits for our county roads. We're doing this for safety reasons."

During its meeting Thursday the Cape Girardeau County Commissioners decided to hold three public hearings before voting on the ordinance to lower the the speed limit.

County roads in Missouri have a default speed limit of 60 mph, unless the county passes an ordinance to reduce it, said Sgt. Dale Moreland, spokesman for the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Flashing lights and signs displaying the 35 mph speed limit already are posted along the roadway, also known as Bloomfield Road. Mark Phillips, engineer for the Cape Special Road District, which maintains County Road 205, said he doesn't know why the signs were there when the actual speed limit is 60 mph.

Koeper said the 35 mph limit can't be enforced because the tickets will be thrown out of court.

In 2003, a Cape Girardeau driver contested a speeding ticket he received on County Road 205. His attorney planned to argue that the county had no authority to set speed limits because the commission didn't institute a new speed limit ordinance when the county earned a first-class designation in 1997. However, that issue was not ruled on because the speeding charge was dismissed in early 2004.

The time and place of the public hearings must be published in at least two newspapers at least 15 days beforehand. Hearings must also be posted at least 15 days in advance in four conspicuous locations in the county.

"As long as we have public hearings and allow for public input and discourse, this process will work," said District 2 Commissioner Jay Purcell.

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones suggested holding one hearing when the county commission normally meets, another at the Cape Special Road District, which maintains the road, and the third hearing at night at the county commission chambers.

The commission may approve dates of the hearings during its Monday meeting. If the ordinance is passed, the speed could be changed by late March or early April.

According to a letter addressed to Koeper from Cape Girardeau city engineer Kelly Green, the city conducted a study of traffic flow on County Road 205 from Oct. 6 to 19. The study found that in the westbound lane most drivers were traveling 50.38 mph while motorists traveling in the eastbound lane were driving 48.9 mph.

A Missouri State Highway Patrol study of accidents between Jan. 1, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2008, found that 75 accidents occurred on the road.

Temporary worker

In other action, the commission approved Circuit Clerk Charles Hutson's request of hiring a temporary worker in his office to replace deputy clerk Sandy Beck, who joined a private Cape Girardeau law practice Feb. 11. Hutson told the commissioners during its Feb. 8 meeting that a Missouri Office of State Court Administrator document ranked Cape Girardeau County 15th among counties that needed additional help in the circuit court.

Court hearing

At the end of the meeting Purcell raised a concern that Jones and Koeper will use taxpayer money to attend the Missouri Supreme Court's hearing of arguments in Purcell's lawsuit against the commission alleging a violation the state's Open Meetings and Records Act.

The lawsuit stems from an April 2008 closed-door meeting that Purcell secretly recorded and involved several officials who confronted county Auditor David Ludwig and asked for his resignation. Purcell later made the secret recordings public. The Missouri Eastern District Court of Appeals ruled in July that the commission cannot be sued.

"There is really no reason for the citizens to pay for us to go there," Purcell said, adding that the commissioners can instead listen to the hearing over the Internet.

Koeper and Jones plan on leaving Tuesday and stay overnight in an $80 hotel room. Koeper said they are using money wisely because Tuesday they will tour a Franklin County juvenile facility and Wednesday visit the Boone County Courthouse to look at its security system. Cape Girardeau County is considering rebuilding its juvenile center.

Purcell said that since Koep?er and Jones are riding in one vehicle and touring the courthouse and juvenile facility, they are violating the Sunshine Law. But Tom Durkin, who serves as public education director for the Missouri attorney general's office, said that is not a violation because the drive is part of commissioners' administrative function. Durkin suggested that Koeper and Jones, while not required by law, could take notes of their experience and include that information as minutes.

Koeper said he is attending because he is being sued as a part of the commission.

"I feel like if I'm being sued for something that I wasn't even here on, I want to learn the whole thing," said Koeper, who took office in 2009. "I want to be there, I want to be involved in it."

Jones told Purcell that if he cared about saving the county money he would not have filed the lawsuit.



Pertinent addresses:

1 Barton Square, Jackson, MO

Cape Girardeau, MO

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Amazing what money can influence!

-- Posted by can'tfixstupid on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 2:50 PM

And what good will this do? It will build revenue if patroled daily. The **** road is a hazard in its design. It needs widened and straightened in places with guard rails installed in places as well. Setting a speed limit is fine but it will not keep people from speeding nor will it fix the real issues with this road. I travel it daily and I can honestly say that many of the residents who live off bloomfield road are just as guilty if not more for driving it too fast! That my friends is a fact.

-- Posted by GREYWOLF on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 2:51 PM

I also travel this road daily. The area the city is wanting to improve is not where all the accidents occur. The accidents are all within the first few curves after turning off HWY 74. I agree the problem is speed but it is because the vehicles are traveling too fast around the curves when the road is wet. I cannot remember the last time there was an accident past those curves.

-- Posted by coolcat on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 3:22 PM

Gotta love Koeper's home-spun hillbilly humor and vernacular -- "problem child in the county"... indeed.

-- Posted by TommyStix on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 3:53 PM

The speed limit on this road is already 35 mph. It's posted in several places along the road from Hwy 74 to Siemers Drive, including right above the two new signs that flash your vehicle speed. So the point of this was???

-- Posted by farmwife2 on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 4:06 PM

farmwife2 beat me to it. I live in the area. The speed limit is 35mph. There are a couple of places that need to fixed, but if you want a new shortcut speedway that widening and straightening would provide, use the plan James Baughn suggested and start from scratch with a new road elsewhere. But I still think the real solution would be to provide a better route from Blomeyer to Cape via nash road as was promised years back.

-- Posted by Old John on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 4:37 PM

Hey Old John: The "Nash Road" extension as Rte AB starting from the 25&77 intersection at Blomeyer and connecting to the existing road at the industrial park has been funded by Cape Girardeau County, MoDOT, and federal earmarks. Cape County and MoDOT have awarded contracts for the intersection and the grading of the extension and the construction will start full bore when the weather decides to cooperate this spring. The paving will probably not be completed until Summer 2011 unless we really get lucky.

-- Posted by hondaprimacy on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 8:35 PM

Baugh had the best idea of anyone. I've driven the road and it is a beautiful road. I wouldn't want to see it widened or straightened. Widening the road would take out too many trees and I don't care what anyone says about it not.

-- Posted by dgparham on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 9:07 PM

When they decided to create subdivisions and golf courses out there they must have realized Bloomfield road would be archaic and in need of improvement. Slowly but surely this area is being annexed into the City limits of Cape and why not, its a great tax base. The road needs improvement folks and speed limits mean very little when it comes to accidents on that road. I forsee that Cape will foot much of the bill on this one, on down the road, no pun intended! All those worried about trees were not screaming when they took down century old trees all over that golf course.

Straighten the road and widen it. Add guard rails where needed and resurface the **** thing. Those who have purchased homes out there can help foot the bill as well.

-- Posted by GREYWOLF on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 6:54 AM

Have all of you gone mad!!!

This article was all about Mr. Purcell and his ongoing battle to save the county from corruption and injustice. The speed limit issue was just a smoke screen to get Jay back in the news valiantly fighting against the evil commissioners who take extravagant business trips at our expense.($80 hotel room? Better check that it has running water) Riding together a violation of the law? Only Purcell can bring such minutia to the newspapers.

And THE SOUTHEAST MISSOURIAN??? Shame on you for not plastering Purcells picture on the front page


-- Posted by 2wheeler on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 7:14 AM

Maybe somebody should ask Purcell why he abandon his county car in the parking lot of Tractor Supply for a week?

-- Posted by hollyshort on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 7:23 AM

Purcell for Mayor!!!

-- Posted by peter_grant on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 8:24 AM

So did the county put the flashing speed limit signs up on Bloomfield Road - or did an individual?

Since the actual speed limit is 60 - sounds like they need to come down! I think they are annoying and distracting anyway.

Would be nice if they put an alternate bypass route in from 74 to that side of town. I always wandered why they didn't consider putting an outer road along the west side of the interstate from old 74 to Bloomfield RD as an alternate route.

-- Posted by ShowMeGuy on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 10:01 AM

hollyshort: Are you a stalker? You seem to always comment on his where abouts and his actions. Why don't you tell us why he left his car on tractor Supply parking lot and do away with the suspense? Your personal vandetta and ax to grind is becoming very apparant.

-- Posted by howdydoody on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 10:29 AM

Sounds like Pur-putz is up to his same old stuff. Please can we vote him out so we wouldn't have to listen to him anymore!!!

-- Posted by Bond 007 on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 11:43 AM

Im confused about this road. Is it IN or OUT of the city limits of Cape?Is this the same road the city wants to widen and pave? Sounds like it is OUT of the city limits. Dont use my city sales tax to pave a road outside the city

-- Posted by racer3694 on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 12:20 PM

Dear Mr. Purcell (howdydoody), Considering your syntax you are one in the same either that or you are both high school drop outs.

-- Posted by hollyshort on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 12:42 PM

Racer - only part of it is in the city limits (although the city keeps annexing more in that direction as they pretty much can't go any other direction)

-- Posted by ShowMeGuy on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 12:46 PM

If you think people who have purchased homes out there are going to "foot the bill" you are out of your mind. I live off bloomfield and like the road, and usually cruise 60. If its raining hey guess what folks, I slow the hell down just like I would on any other road. Some people just suck at driving. Racer - its out of the city limits by about 3 miles.

-- Posted by dixiewrecked on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 12:52 PM

hollyshort: Much to your dismay, I am not Purcell. I did not approve of what he did by recording conversations. You got that? However. it did expose what a good ole boy network exists on the commission. That I do approve of. I would say you are in love with Purcell by the way you always keep tabs on him. Are you Gerald Jones a/k/a Boss Hogg? Come on now, are you?

-- Posted by howdydoody on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 1:26 PM

Leave it at 60 MPH...

- Chuck Darwin.

-- Posted by Hawker on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 2:11 PM

Good lord Hawker thats the best thing I've seen in a while. I almost said that, but figured people would be offended. True though

-- Posted by dixiewrecked on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 4:55 PM

Hey - looks like somebody took the radar signs down! Thank You!

-- Posted by ShowMeGuy on Fri, Feb 19, 2010, at 9:50 PM

Again - why was this speed limit issue not thought about BEFORE ALL THE ROADS IN THE COUNTY WERE PAVED ?!! Forget about Bloomfield Road, this article only excites the speedsters to get out there on this challenging road - heck, I might see if I can run that road at 60 with all its twists and turns! Just more short-sighted incompetence at the county commission.

Also - "Koeper and Jones plan on leaving Tuesday and stay overnight in an $80 hotel room." While this sudden thriftiness is appreciated, can't we afford the gentlemen TWO rooms, so that they won't have to bunk down together. It's their choice, and not that there's anything wrong with that...but, Koeper and Jones in the same hotel room? I dunno...I see lots of highway signs for $69 a night rooms, maybe they could stay at one of those places??

-- Posted by jacksonjazzman on Sun, Feb 21, 2010, at 11:38 AM

Jones and Koeper riding the same car, and sharing the same hotel room...Sounds like a Commissioners Road Trip !! And how are they NOT going to talk about county business during all those hours together ? This really looks like Jones grooming his heir-apparent, to take the presiding commissioner reigns in the future...

-- Posted by jacksonjazzman on Sun, Feb 21, 2010, at 11:42 AM

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Map of pertinent addresses