City to recognize completion of Big Bend, Bloomfield projects

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

They caused motorists to grumble at times, but Cape Girardeau officials said Tuesday they think any hassle caused by two recently completed road projects was worth it.

Two ribbon cuttings are scheduled this month to recognize the completion of road-enhancement projects for Bloomfield and Big Bend roads, beginning at 11:30 a.m. today along Big Bend Road between Johnson and Fifth streets. The Bloomfield Road event is set for 1:30 p.m. March 20.

Both projects were paid for by Transportation Trust Fund III, the half-cent sales tax which met wide voter approval -- more than 80 percent -- in 2005.

As the work on both projects was underway last summer, the roads were littered with detours, prompting gripes from residents that the detours were lengthening their drive times and testing their patience.

The $1.25 million Bloomfield Road project closed a street section for nearly six months until it fully reopened to traffic late last year. The nearly $2 million Big Bend Road project was stalled by problems that caused the Sloan Creek bridge to close to traffic for more than a year. Spring flooding pushed the project back last year when the bridge needed to be shored up. The work couldn't resume, however, until the waters subsided.

City officials said they understand the aggravation such projects often cause.

"I know any time we close a street, it's frustrating -- not just for the folks who live there, but for the people who commute through there," said city engineer Casey Brunke. "We try to get the streets open as quickly as we can, but we have to make sure it's safe before we open it."

Brunke reiterated what other officials said Tuesday: Now that the projects are done, they hope residents feel like it's worth it.

The first detours popped up for the Big Bend Road project in July 2010 when work began to widen and replace the street from Olive Street to 1,300 feet north of Bertling Street. Bloomfield wasn't fully open to traffic until January.

Isle of Capri's construction of its new casino also caused traffic detours beyond the southern edge of the project as the company paid to reroute Big Bend Road southward to Mill Street.

But the casino actually helped the project become better than it was originally intended, Brunke said. The city's portion originally included the work that Isle ultimately did. When Isle took over the southern portion of the project, that freed up money to do more to Big Bend than was originally planned, she said.

The plan originally called for milling and overlaying the road, but the extra money allowed for complete road replacement for a 4,800-foot stretch of roadway.

"It's not anything like we originally planned on; it's better than we would have hoped for," Brunke said.

The story was similar for Bloomfield Road, which saw detours and street closings beginning June 1 last year until the road reopened in November. Utility delays pushed back the completion of that project at one point. The Bloomfield project called for removing 2,280 feet of existing surfacing, regrading and the realignment of roadway from Stonebridge Drive to just south of the Benton Hill Road intersection. The project also includes an eight-foot-wide trail for walking and biking, as well as retaining walls, fencing and storm sewer improvements. Crews also put 190 linear feet of new roadway on the adjoining County Road 206.

Others objected to the removal of 66 trees, which had to come down as part of the project, though the city was able to finagle the plans to reduce the total that were taken down.

Doug Spooler, who lives in a subdivision just off Bloomfield, was among those who said the project was causing inconveniences. On Tuesday, Spooler said he was pleased with the results.

"It's very beautiful," Spooler said. "The walking trail, my family has used that several times."

The next work slated for Bloomfield Road is scheduled to begin next year, when the roadway will be widened from Benton Hill Road to White Oaks Lane. Preliminary planning is already underway.

But Spooler suggested that the residents reserve judgment and try to be patient.

"I really think the residents further down the road will be pleased with the final result if it's anything like the section they just completed," Spooler said. "In the grand scheme of things, it's safer and wider. Overall, it was well worth the wait."

smoyers@semissourian.com

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Pertinent addresses:

Big Bend Road, Cape Girardeau, MO

Bloomfield Road, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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