City boards discuss street projects

Thursday, October 11, 2001

The bottom line is this: Any frustration Cape Girardeau residents feel about the volume and timing of recent street work should be outweighed by the satisfaction of driving down newly improved roads.

That seemed to be the outcome of a joint meeting Wednesday night between the Cape Girardeau City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

"I realize there's a degree of frustration," Mayor Al Spradling III said after the meeting. "But I think when people see how good things have gotten on our streets, it will override any frustration they have felt."

Planning commissioner Harry Rediger asked for the meeting between the two groups after he voiced concerns about how the public will react to the number of street projects that have caused detours that leave frazzled drivers scrambling to find alternative routes.

"I think a part of it is the surprise," he said. "All of a sudden they're driving down a street and it's closed."

Transportation fund

Rediger is especially concerned about how voters will react when asked to extend a half-cent transportation sales tax in 2005. In 1995, voters established the tax by a majority of 68 percent. The funds were strictly earmarked for the city's Transportation Trust Fund to do street projects. In 2000, voters extended the tax.

"We've done so much in the past years because of the passage of those two issues," Rediger said. "I think we all want to see that proceed."

Rediger said that keeping the public informed of when the street work was to start and end would be a good start to lessening driver distress. But Spradling countered that saying that the city does a good job of informing the public, through local media, the cable-access channel and listing roadwork on utility bills.

"We make a fairly concerted effort to let folks know it's happening," Spradling said.

Spradling said that this year's high volume of roadwork is an anomaly. The projects from the first five-year tax were being completed and the batch of projects from the second five-year tax were just getting under way.

"We just got hit with all the projects at one time," Spradling said. "We were under the gun to get them all done."

Commissioner R.J. McKinney's concerns did not seem allayed.

"The public seems to think there is no coordination," he said. "If they continue to think that, we can kiss that extension goodbye."

Planning commission chairman Charlie Haubold said people should remember how little roadwork was done before the tax was approved.

"Before the tax, we didn't do anything," he said. "We've come a long way."

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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