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City officials break ground on Fountain Street extension
City officials broke ground Wednesday on a $1.2 million extension of Fountain Street that will serve as a gateway to Cape Girardeau's downtown.
The new road will connect Highway 74 and Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus from Morgan Oak to William streets.
"This whole area will open up for any kind of commercial development," said Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger. Some of the property is owned by Southeast and will be used for parking, he said.
Rediger said this is an exciting project for him, having served previously on the city's planning and zoning board and working with its Transportation Trust Fund.
A total of $300,000 for the project came from the city's TTF-3 initiative.
Other funding sources were:
* $400,000 Missouri Department of Economic Development Community Development Block Grant
* $105,000 Missouri Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant
* $419,964 federal grant.
The new road, 1,300 feet long, will be built on an abandoned railroad bed and finished with brick pavers in a herringbone pattern. The boulevard-style street will have an eight-foot landscaped median and a roundabout at the intersection of Morgan Oak and Fountain streets. Decorative street lights also are called for in the project plans.
"The center area will be a focal point as people come down Fountain Street," Rediger said. "It will provide for a nice traffic flow without stop signs."
It's yet to be determined what will be placed in the center of the roundabout.
"That's something we can dream about," Rediger said.
Missouri's Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri program helped secure grant funding for the project. Cape Girardeau was one of the first cities to be selected for the state-funded DREAM Initiative.
When the TTF-3 measure was passed, it included funds only for a basic street, nothing like the boulevard with decorative lighting that runs in front of the River Campus, which the Fountain Street extension will resemble.
"It was a challenge to seek other funding sources for the enhancements we wanted," said Tim Arbeiter, vice president of community development at the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce. He first worked on the project as executive director of Old Town Cape in 2004.
Nip Kelly Equipment Inc. was awarded the bid for the Fountain Street extension in March. Work is expected to take about seven months to complete, said city manager Scott Meyer.
There will be two phases of construction, one block each from William to Good Hope streets and from Good Hope to Morgan Oak streets. Traffic passing through the area will be disrupted at times as construction progresses, said David Whitaker, assistant city engineer.