Jackson to have busy year with road, utility projects

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
A traffic roundabout is being considered near the Cape Girardeau County courthouse. To relieve congestion a traffic light could also be built at Jackson's Main Street intersection with Hope Street - U.S. 61. This view is looking south onto Hope Street. (Fred Lynch)

Jackson city officials are preparing for a busy 2010.

Plans this year include streamlining the city's electric conversion system, revamping a sewer system and, in what officials and business leaders believe will be important in increasing commerce, extending Old Orchard Road to East Main Street.

Previous phases of the road project transformed part of Old Orchard Road from asphalt to concrete pavement and another part from gravel to asphalt. Those phases were completed last summer.

Once the city wraps up negotiations with the final three property owners to sell their land between Bainbridge Road to East Main Street and receives Missouri Department of Transportation approval, the new phase, costing about $1.2 million, can begin. Jackson director of public works Rodney Bollinger said the road could be complete by late fall.

A final phase is planned at the intersection of U.S. 61 and Old Orchard Road. Scheduled for 2011, the road would extend south to Old Cape Road near Kohlfeld Distributing.

Since the extension began, several businesses have located in the area, such as Buchheit and Comfort Suites. Jackson Chamber of Commerce executive director Brian Gerau said he expects more businesses to relocate to East Main Street and Old Orchard Road once the extension from Bainbridge Road is complete.

"Anytime you can put roads in, it increases accessibility, especially for a road like Old Orchard," Gerau said. "Businesses are always looking for new roads, and that's a big part of attracting them to the area.

"In this day and age you can't always be picky, but retail is always good," Gerau said. "That's always been a big request by the people for that area."

The law firm of Lichtenegger, Weiss & Fetterhoff broke ground in March 2009 for its new two-story office building at 2480 E. Main St. Rhodes 101 has indicated plans to build a new convenience store on the street as well.

Sewer improvement

Another project is the Elwanda Drive Relief Sewer Project in the area encompassing Highway 72, Rocky Branch and Strawberry Lane. The $700,000 project will replace 50-year-old pipes, Bollinger said.

"The sewage is running through older pipes that are getting too full, so you can understand the need for replacing them," Bollinger said.

Bids on the project are expected to begin sometime in April, with work to begin in June or July. The project is scheduled to take about three months.

This will be the final sewer project funded by a $12 million water and sewer bond issue that was passed in 1998.

Jackson city administrator Jim Roach said such projects are essential.

"We're at a point as a city where we have to continually maintain growth in infrastructure," Roach said. "If you don't put money in projects like the sewer system, you won't sustain continual growth."

Utility projects

In a matter of weeks crews will begin the final phase of installing six circuits that will provide better power management in emergency situations. Those six circuits will regulate 12,000 volts, compared 4,000 volts now.

The $1.2 million upgrade is scheduled for completion by the end of September. Most of those circuits are in the uptown area.

"It's a 10," said Jackson utilities director Don Schuette. "In order to get everything in the city converted to a common distribution voltage makes it much more manageable during emergency scenarios, plus it minimizes our inventory where we don't have to carry two types of inventories when working during electrical outages."

Soon after the conversion project is complete, crews will begin working on installation of a second transmission line that will travel from the main substation on U.S. 61 along the East Main Street area to smaller substations in the city.

Schuette said bids on the $1.4 million project should go out in May, with a completion date of early 2011.

"This project is also a 10," Schuette said. "This will be a backup feed of transmission lines, so if we lose one we can rely on the other."

Highway 25 work

In an effort to relieve the Highway 25 congestion problem at South Elementary, the Missouri Department of Transportation is expected to advertise for bids later this month and award the contract in April. Bollinger said construction should begin in May and be complete before the 2010-2011 school year begins.

The city is relocating some electric and water lines that are in the way of the project. Power Line Consultants should begin work on the electric line relocations this week or next week, and the city's water distribution will handle the work on the relocation of water lines.

South Elementary, opened in 1998, has seen a steady increase in enrollment along with an accompanying traffic tie-up at the entrance to the school. Under the plan, Highway 25 will be widened to provide turn lanes, a traffic light will be installed and parking areas will be redesigned.

Other projects

Additional projects also scheduled this year include reconstruction of a section of North Hope Street and a new recreational trail linking two schools.

When the 2009-2010 school year ends, crews will begin removing and replacing the street and sidewalks between East Mary Street and Greensferry Road. Funded by a transportation sales tax, the project should be complete before the summer ends.

A new 1600-foot trail that will run between West Jackson Boulevard and Orchard Drive will play an important role in connecting R.O. Hawkins Junior High School with Orchard Elementary School. This project is funded through a grant through the Missouri Department of Transportation's Safe Routes to Schools Program. No completion date has been announced.

Roundabout future

One other project designed to relieve traffic congestion uptown could be a roundabout on U.S. 61 near the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse, though Bollinger said it is too early to say whether that will be the final solution to solve the problem. The city hired a transportation-engineering firm that completed a feasibility study and conceptual plan that included the roundabout in one option.

The firm is discussing the next step with officials from Jackson, Cape Girardeau County and the Missouri Department of Transportation. Bollinger said the firm could present a final recommendation on the best way to relieve traffic congestion as early as April.

"This is extremely important, considering this is the number one traffic issue facing Jackson, according to feedback received by residents during the new Comprehensive Plan process," Bollinger said.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

243-6635

Pertinent address:

101 Court St., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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