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Cape County commissioners opposed to new roundabout design

Friday, March 26, 2010

Traffic congestion, such as at the intersection of Hope and Main streets, is a problem many in Jackson agree should be corrected. Thursday a consultant talked to the Cape Girardeau County Commission about a proposal to alleviate the congestion in the city, including the option of a roundabout in front of the courthouse lawn.
(Kit Doyle)
A proposed roundabout on U.S. 61 that could encroach upon the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse lawn drew criticism from county commissioners Thursday.

Presented during the commission's morning meeting by Doug Shatto of St. Louis-based Crawford, Bunte and Brammeier, the roundabout would be 130 feet in diameter where U.S. 61 and Washington Street intersect. The plan also includes a stop light and turn lanes at the intersection of Hope and Main streets.

A point of contention is that the roundabout could endanger a tree that was used to hang people who were convicted of murder. The tree is more than 100 years old and is the last "hanging tree" in the county, Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said.

The proposed roundabout would come within a few feet of the tree trunk, causing possible damage.

"If these three commissioners agree to give up that much of our beautiful courthouse lawn, there would be a three-person hanging on that hanging tree," Jones said. "And I believe that would be us."

The original plan proposed by Shatto in October included the roundabout placed in the center of the intersection. The new plan calls for the roundabout 15 to 20 feet farther south, touching the courthouse lawn.

Crawford, Bunte and Brammeier previously identified those two areas along U.S. 61 as where traffic is most congested. Additionally, Jackson's last two comprehensive plans identified the flow of traffic in uptown Jackson as a major concern for its residents. The city's comprehensive plan is intended to serve as its policy guide.

First District Commissioner Paul Koeper said he was against the new plan.

"No way I'm going to push forward of going to the south," Koeper said. "I just can't see us doing that."

Second District Commissioner Jay Purcell asked if it would be possible to move the roundabout farther north of the courthouse while keeping a home at the corner of U.S. 61 and Washington Street intact.

"No one likes the government taking their home," Purcell said.

Shatto said that his firm would try to minimize the effect on private property.

Shatto reminded commissioners that the designs were not final and the project must be funded. Since no funding source has been identified, he said, a start date on construction is undetermined.

He plans to visit with the Jackson Board of Aldermen during its two April meetings to discuss the plan. Additionally, Shatto said he will have ongoing discussions with the Missouri Department of Transportation about the proposal.

"I'm just sharing the plans with all parties involved," Shatto said. "I'm making rounds and gathering input before a final decision is made."

Bridge work planned

Later in the meeting MoDOT regional field engineer Andy Meyer told the commissioners that a bridge over Buckeye Creek on U.S. 61 will be replaced April 5 and should reopen by early May. During construction, the road will remain closed from Route E to Route KK.

Once complete, the bridge will be widened from 20 to 35 feet.

U.S. 61, including the area where the bridge is, will serve as an alternate route emergency personnel could take once the two northbound lanes on Interstate 55 at U.S. 61 in Fruitland to Route KK in Old Appleton are closed this summer for repavement. The two southbound lanes will be converted into one northbound and one southbound lane throughout construction.

Meyer met with school officials, business owners and emergency personnel Thursday to inform them of the closure.

"This is a situation we need to deal with before run head-to-head traffic on the interstate," Meyer said.



Pertinent addresses:

1 Barton Square, Jackson, MO

101 Court St., Jackson, MO

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Any disturbance, (excavation and/or compaction), within the area below the canopy of the tree will damage it.

-- Posted by Hawker on Thu, Mar 25, 2010, at 5:06 PM

Good grief Gerald put your big girl panties on and look at how a roundabout could reduce traffic on that intersection other than an old tree that killed people.I hope the commission is not opposed to a stop light at Hope and Main.

-- Posted by mogearjammer on Thu, Mar 25, 2010, at 6:15 PM

That is a truly worthwhile historic landmark!!! A tree that used to hang people and we want to protect it! ROFL!!!!!!!

And we wonder why people laugh at Missouri...

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Thu, Mar 25, 2010, at 6:24 PM

We might need to use that tree again!

-- Posted by grandma73 on Thu, Mar 25, 2010, at 6:47 PM

Close the courthouse and relocate to Federal Building.

-- Posted by insider63785 on Thu, Mar 25, 2010, at 7:21 PM

Yes, that would be ideal--wait, Larry Rice is screwing that one up.

-- Posted by Just__Me on Thu, Mar 25, 2010, at 7:26 PM

Keep in mind that roundabouts result in an a higher number of bicycle/motor vehicle accidents.

-- Posted by Yankee Station on Thu, Mar 25, 2010, at 7:45 PM

What! The East Main extension didn't take care of that gnarl?

There is absolutely no reason to keep this traffic going through the uptown area. Solve the problem once and for all and build a bypass. Jackson isn't so big that those wanting to shop at the handful of stores uptown wouldn't do so anyhow. I, personally, would shop them more if I didn't have to negotiate the traffic mess.

-- Posted by malan on Thu, Mar 25, 2010, at 8:18 PM

I think Shato needs to go back to St. Louis and stay there!!Quit using businesses from St. Louis. Keep the money in jackson!!

-- Posted by agape on Thu, Mar 25, 2010, at 8:31 PM

Yankee Station - don't know where you obtained your information. Twenty years worth of studies on roundabouts demonstrate an 85% reduction in motor vehicle accidents. Additionally, for those accidents that occur there is a corresponding decrease in both injury severity and fatality rate. Roundabouts require motorists to slow down and pay clower attention - whether they want to or not. There has not been a lot of study on bicycles to either support or contradict your assertion. So I guess the 3 people who ride bicycles around the Jackson square would have to be more careful.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 6:22 AM

Here's a good ideal, why don't we use the tree to hang Jones and purcell then get some county commissioners who will do their jobs and quit whinning like little babies.

-- Posted by newman90 on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 8:55 AM

Who gives a rats *** about a tree you can't use any longer, LOL.

-- Posted by Red Devil on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 9:22 AM

Like I've said for 10 years, N.High should make a left through the American Legion parking lot and angle straight up to N. Hope. You would have to buy a parking lot and 2 or 3 old homes and then you have a straight road with no need for a **** roundabout. You could close off the road from the Legion Hall to the courthouse and turn that into a park with new hanging trees.

-- Posted by Red Devil on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 9:28 AM

i would like to see how big trucks will go around the roundabout that is stupid

-- Posted by USER321 on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 9:54 AM

I swear, you Jackson lifers are amazing! It's a tree.

-- Posted by southeast on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 9:55 AM

amen newman90 that sounds like a good idea

-- Posted by USER321 on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 9:56 AM

if we would use that tree again there would be less people in our jails because they would not want to do anything wrong to get in trouble

-- Posted by USER321 on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 9:58 AM

Put in a stop light at Hope and Main for sure! Another roundabout would be ridiculous. We've had the one in Cape for years and a majority of people still don't know how to use it. As far as preserving a tree simply because it was used for hanging: This is not the politics of 1910 it's 2010 the world has moved on.

-- Posted by SilverPants on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 10:06 AM

The problem isn't the damned tree or a roundabout, folks! It's the intrusive government into our lives! Wake up!

-- Posted by Rocket_Surgeon on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 10:15 AM

The hanging tree especially - but any old healthy trees should be preserved as long as possible! So,can't Shatto move the round about further north? Get with it in Cape County...truck in P'ville seem to be able to navigate a roundabout!

-- Posted by PalsPals on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 10:22 AM

I say buy the house at the corner of High & Washington. Take 61 between the Court House and the County office building. Tear down the License Bureau office. 61 could make two sweeping turns and get through uptown easily.

-- Posted by JD420 on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 12:45 PM

Wow - my comment last week about the I-55 interchange right at the courthouse steps was not too far off after all!!! This Shatto proposal is all crazy talk (bull-shatto)...There's a reason for the traffic congestion, the original street plan of Jackson was not designed to handle the same traffic that a 4-lane highway 61 would require. Any attempt at reducing the congestion by improving the uptown streets with traffic lights and round-a-bouts will NEVER be adequate. There is not enough room to place a round-a-bout big enough for four lanes of traffic and still have good turning radiuses (nice comment "mogearjammer" - noticed that your avatar is a WB67 or other tractor trailer truck...). Oh, there is some room for this huge round-a-bout, plenty of room uptown at the Jackson High School football stadium - just use that plot of land. You need another traffic path AROUND the congested part of uptown Jackson. This should have been planned years ago, but I'm sure all the merchants wanted 61 to run near there gas stations. There needs to be a new route connecting East Main and heading north back to Hwy 61, around and away from the courthouse square, maybe by tying in at East Independence. OR -- let your kids ride the buses that we all pay for! I am glad that Boss Jones stood up for the living part of our county history -- shame on all of you that laugh at it. We need to protect what remains of the old courthouse square, there is no other town in the state that has this unique "H" plan street layout and probably none that have a hanging tree. There's a story about the last hanging in Cape County, and it wasn't all that long ago -- my great uncles and grandparents retold the story to me.

-- Posted by jacksonjazzman on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 1:00 PM

Well lots I see lots of comments on the roundabout. The only one that I really don't care for is JD420s. Want to know why....Cause I live in the corner house you are talking abut. My parents have been working hard on redoing the inside of the house. Like removing the paint off 100 year old wood trim. Bringing life back the wood floors. Also they redid the bathroom on the second floor. They got the property nex door to add a nice yeard to their property. So after all that work that has been going on for 4 or 5 years to the house I would hate to see the city that cant afford to pave streets in the city and county TRY to buy this house and put in a round about. I think the money could be better spent. So hey JD420 how would you feel if after working for so long on your dream house have it smashed to the ground by the same city, that after working in Chicago for 25 years as a firefighter, wanted to spend your retirement years. I think its time you get away from the "420' for a wile so you can start to think more clearly. Or at least start thinking about others. I say if you want to knock down a building...Knock down the cout house and the county office building and put the court house back where it was and have the road go there. By the way our house is on lot #1 built over 100 years ago, just like the tree some people want to save, by the then Sherrif. So I dont know why you would want to knock down a part of your towns history when we are working to keep it. But Jackson you do what you want to do and we will do what we have to do.

-- Posted by DaveInSEMO on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 1:23 PM

The Hanging Tree:


-- Posted by slim_pickens on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 1:51 PM

DaveInSEMO, I understand your feelings. Given the right price, my house is always for sale. However, the gov't normally doesn't even pay market value. Actually, the County office building should never have been built there. That is where the street should be. As someone above mentioned, a bypass is the only good option. (By the way, the 420 doesn't stand for anything you smoke.)

-- Posted by JD420 on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 2:25 PM

Isn't the house we're talking about on the National Register of Historic Places?

-- Posted by Red Devil on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 2:39 PM

ITS A TREEE!!!!!!!!!!!

-- Posted by mogearjammer on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 3:20 PM

I Agree with REDDEVIL!

-- Posted by Jax12 on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 5:47 PM

Everyone needs to take a drive up N. Hope past the post office and stay on N. Hope past Washington St.. When you get to the end of the block instead of turning right like you have to, the street would angle to the left through those 2 properties and through the Legion parking lot where it would connect with N. High at the N. High/E.Mary St. intersection.

-- Posted by Red Devil on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 6:00 PM

Red Devil's option is an improvement, but still pulls a lot of traffic through the Main Street intersection and down a residential street. All our great-grandparents could tell us why that route was never adopted in the first place. But doing a by-pass route would be the best proposal, by going further east on Main and looping north back to 61 - maybe even looping south back to East Jxson Blvd. That hwy 25/61 intersection will be a boiling point one of these days...

-- Posted by jacksonjazzman on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 6:11 PM

thought #1- just call UE and tell them the tree is close to power lines, that will take care of that!!!

thought #2- just place a video camera at the roundabout by St Francis and watch as idiots try to navigate it. Not only would it be a very entertaining video, but it would also show the county how it is done.

-- Posted by Skeptic1 on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 6:31 PM

We need Red Devil at the next council meeting to pitch his idea. That would solve all problems and arguments. Of course Jones might call him a GD fool.

-- Posted by grandma73 on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 7:22 PM

Put in stop lights and get on with it, this is NOT St. Louis ! If you like St. Louis so much leave Jackson-Cape area and go live there ! But don't keep chipping away our more simpler way of life here, we like it. People need to slow up and wait on the lights to change that is not such a big deal. Lights people just plain old lights will do the job and at a much smaller price tag !

Don't anyone in this country understand WE ARE BROKE , WE HAVE NO MORE MONEY ! LEARN TO LIVE AND DO ON LESS. Cape's Round about should have shown the people what a waste of money these things are and this one would be no better !

-- Posted by monk on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 7:49 PM

If I pitch it at a council meeting Jones wouldn't be there, he's a county commissioner. Well at least that's what he's being paid for.

-- Posted by Red Devil on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 8:29 PM

Bypass. Build for the future. Roundabouts are the kind of stuff you get with an out-of-town consultant.

-- Posted by russrat on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 8:30 PM

Who in the H--- came up with a round about Idea anyhow? That is the dumbest Idea. The one in Cape is a pain in the you know what. I hate it.

And I don't understand why we have to hire a St Louis firm to figure what we need anyhow. More money waisted. We need to leave the courthouse property alone, as well as that intersetion.

Go to a bypass like most cities do in a case like this. The traffic using the 61 route don't need to go through downtown Jackson anyway. This would leave the local traffic only, which would be ample.

Ask a truck driver if he would drive a couple more miles to avoid going through town with all the stop lights, and traffic. He sure don't care about seeing downtown Jackson, or our courthouse, like we do. What happen to common sense nowadays?

-- Posted by Kickstarter on Fri, Mar 26, 2010, at 9:57 PM

"common sense"?

What's that got to do with anything? We're talking about Governmental decisions (on any level) aren't we?

-- Posted by malan on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 11:13 AM


Interesting piece. I worked for The Jackson Pioneer in the mid-60s, just across from the courthouse and never knew the history of the tree.

I stopped by there after reading your story to take some pictures of it.


-- Posted by ksteinhoff on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 11:20 AM

I wonder if navigating round-abouts is more difficult for people in SUV's while on their cell phones?

-- Posted by Tech_Dude on Mon, Mar 29, 2010, at 8:54 AM

The hanging tree was originally planted to mark a mass burial of prisoners that died in 1852 in a colera epedemic.

-- Posted by boxedcookies on Tue, Mar 30, 2010, at 11:16 AM

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