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.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

243-6635

Pertinent addresses:

1 Barton Square, Jackson, MO

101 Court St., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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