Scott City's Ramsey Creek Corridor may miss original construction deadline

Thursday, October 27, 2011
Construction of a bridge over Ramsey Creek is underway Monday at Scott City. The view is to the south. (Fred Lynch)

The construction phase of a Scott City road project first proposed decades ago is halfway completed.

But those in Scott City anticipating the alternate route to Interstate 55 that the Ramsey Creek Corridor project will provide may have to wait a bit longer than the July completion date once estimated, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Officials broke ground on the project one year ago Wednesday and anticipated having it done by July 2012, but the project has been delayed by this spring's heavy rain and flooding, MoDOT engineer David Wyman said.

"The major issues we've faced are flooding and high water," Wyman said. "The high water cuts off a lot of material for the project."

The Ramsey Creek Corridor, once referred to commonly as the Ramsey Creek Bridge, will give Scott City drivers alternate access to I-55 north from Mulberry Street to Route AB, on the eastern side of the interstate. Workers are preparing the construction site for the winter now, but they have been focused on building up the embankment and finishing the bridge, Wyman said.

The project will be suspended during the winter and will resume in the spring, Wyman said, noting that he hopes the corridor will be complete by the end of 2012.

"We cannot control Mother Nature," Wyman said. "We've extended the deadline because we want to do a good job on this project."

When completed, the project will alleviate congestion throughout the city, Wyman said. Congestion problems at the intersection of Main Street, U.S. 61 and I-55 date back to the 1970s.

In July 1986, an overturned tanker truck loaded with 7,000 gallons of gasoline forced Scott City authorities to seal off the only major route into and out of the city for almost five hours in the afternoon. Police immediately sealed off the entire area by blocking the Scott City exit ramp on the northbound lane and the old U.S. 61 exit ramp at Main Street. City leaders used the incident as an example to push for another route in and out of town.

The new outer road will provide a direct route out of the city to the north.

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission awarded a $4.3 million contract to R.L. Persons Construction Inc. of Poplar Bluff, Mo., for the project in June 2010.

While the Ramsey Creek Corridor has been delayed by weather, another project was recently completed.

The Nash Road extension project, which began in 2001, was completed Oct. 18 and connects the existing portion of Nash Road/Route AB with Highway 25. The extension is behind a levee to protect it from flooding and provides motorists with a direct route from Highway 25 to Southeast Missouri Port Authority. The route allows for more efficient grain delivery and provides a direct link to the industrial area.

"I've heard from several farmers who are saying it's cutting a lot of time off their commute to the Port Authority," Wyman said.

A proposed new interchange on Interstate 55 south of Scott City is still in the planning stage, Wyman said, and there is no set timetable for its approval. The interchange is estimated to cost more than $15 million, and project leaders are still uncertain as to how it will be funded.

The proposed interchange would give motorists more options for interstate access and relieve congestion, Wyman said. The project is considered a top priority but must compete for funding with other projects.

"We only have a limited amount of funds to work with," Wyman said. "We try to get a project the community wants built."

Scott City fire chief Jay Cassout said the interchange may not directly affect his crew's response time but that the Ramsey Creek Corridor will.

"We'll be able to access the north end and the industrial park without having to go through stoplights to get to the interstate," Cassout said. "It will shave several minutes off our response."

The projects could be an industrial boon, said Mitch Robinson, executive director of Cape Girardeau Area Magnet. Scott City leaders touted the potential economic benefits for the Ramsey Creek Corridor over several years of pushing for project funding, saying the road would open up new parcels along it for development.

A new interchange could have a similar effect.

"The interchange will create a large amount of property for retail or manufacturing," he said.

The Nash Road extension may not create opportunities, but it is improving transportation for traffic to and from the Port Authority, Robinson said.

"It's helping the flow of loggers to the chip mill in the port," Robinson said. "The extension is improving efficiency."

The Ramsey Creek Corridor will also improve work traffic coming in and going out of Cape Girardeau, Robinson said.

psullivan@semissourian.com

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Scott City, MO

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