Cape Girardeau city planners unveil Broadway design concepts

Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Casey Brunke, project manager with the city engineer's office, answers questions about the Broadway corridor project during an open house Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at First Presbyterian Church. (Fred Lynch)

EDITOR'S NOTE: The funding mechanism for improvements on Broadway and the web address for the plans have been corrected.

Rain gardens, shade trees and pedestrian promenades could soon line Broadway, changing the street from a rundown roadway to a flourishing city center once planners finalize their designs for the planned Broadway corridor project slated for completion in December 2012.

Two design concepts for the corridor were unveiled at an open-house meeting Tuesday night in downtown Cape Girardeau where city planners met with residents and business owners to gather feedback on the proposals.

More than 50 residents attended in the first hour to meet with the plan's design team, ask questions and view design layouts. Meeting attendees were asked to fill out feedback forms, which will be used by city planners to modify final design plans before construction begins.

For Cape Girardeau resident and business owner Thomas M. Meyer, the project is long overdue.

"I've lived downtown for 33 years, and this project is a long time coming," Meyer said. "Trees, shrubbery and layouts were something the city envisioned for Broadway back in the '60s. Now that they've got the money and the direction, all I can ask is that they implement the project in a timely fashion."

The $3.85 million project is a multistep process, including street resurfacing, sidewalk replacement and gutter improvements. Tuesday's meeting focused on phase two of the project, a $1 million proposal that will make Broadway more pedestrian-friendly and help draw people to the downtown area.

The $3.85 million to be used for the project will come from the voter-approved Transportation Trust Fund. Part of that money, $1 million, will then be reimbursed to the fund from revenue generated by the Isle of Capri casino's operation.

Designed and engineered by Strickland Engineering, Horner and Shifrin Inc. and SWT, the two designs offer the city a traditional and contemporary option to choose from. Although the designs differ, both include "green" or sustainable elements, such as rain gardens and special pavement to aid sewer systems and help eliminate Broadway's water overflow problems.

Design one is the more traditional option, improving the cosmetics of Broadway with the addition of shade trees, special pavement and pedestrian areas. On-street parking would not be affected, and pedestrians would be allotted eight to 10 feet of sidewalk space.

This is an artist rendering of possible Broadway corridor enhancements. (SWT Design illustration)

Design two is more contemporary and eliminates parking on the north side of the street, providing business owners more room to work with. The design sketches showed the added space being used as a "pedestrian promenade" with outdoor cafes and seating areas, which are meant to transform Broadway into a central meeting place for the city.

Downtown resident Geoff Smith said although design two eliminates some of downtown's parking, its focus on pedestrian areas will ultimately pay off for downtown business owners.

"I actually like plan two, the one that eliminates parking on one side of the street," Smith said. "I know that there are pros and cons with that, but if you make the space seem more green and more inviting it will actually encourage more businesses to come downtown and open up shops."

Downtown property owner Phil Brinson said the loss of parking is necessary to making Broadway a focal point of the downtown area.

"I like both of the plans. I think they're fantastic," Brinson said. "I don't see any drawbacks to either of them. Of course you would hate to lose some of the parking, but I think it's a necessary evil in order to accomplish this type of environment downtown. I think this will actually slow traffic down on Broadway a little bit, and that's important to the success of this plan."

There were very few complaints among attendees about either plan, with many preferring design two, which is in line with the sentiments of city planners.

"The design team is definitely excited about design two because of the opportunity for expansion that comes with that design," city engineer Kelly Green said. "Business owners will have a lot more room to work with and be able to open street cafes and draw more people in."

Once city planners select a plan to implement, a final design will be drafted using resident feedback. Bidding will open on the plan's construction this fall, with a completion date set for December 2012.

Green said the public's input on the plans is important to city planners and anyone who was unable to attend the meeting may view the city's proposals and leave feedback until July 15 at www.cityofcapegirardeau.org.

ssemmler@semissourian.com

388-3648

Pertinent Address:

235 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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