Cape has big year for street improvements

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

With all the detour signs and orange barrels and with the East Rodney Drive bridge out, Cape Girardeau seemed more like the set of a fast-paced action movie in 2001 than a progressive city.

And residents understandably struggled with finding new routes around town and complained about the inconvenience.

But the passage of time grants perspective, and 2001 was a banner year for street construction, once again proving that the city's half-cent transportation sales tax is well worth it.

The city spent $6.1 million in taxpayer funds to pave or reconstruct 3.5 miles of streets in the city.

The numbers make it seem like a little bang for a lot of bucks, but some of the projects were complicated.

They included finishing the widening of Broadway, a $2.2 million project that improved traffic flow exponentially between Kingshighway and Perry Avenue.

There were complications along the way, but that smooth stretch of asphalt is a pleasure to behold as one drives down the roomy lanes.

The East Rodney Drive bridge over Cape LaCroix Creek was a treacherous, two-lane stretch until this year. Pedestrians took their lives in their own hands attempting to cross it.

A $673,569 project widened the bridge and added a walking path across the bridge and a continuation of the Cape LaCroix Recreational Trail underneath. It is aesthetically pleasing while making travel safer for all.

Other projects included extending Southern Expressway, widening New Madrid Street and extending Silver Springs Road.

The city is still chipping away at paving all gravel streets and spent $196,910 doing so in 2001.

In all, the city finished seven high-profile projects and many smaller ones.

Next year promises to be more low key.

The gravel part of Silver Springs Road will be paved. Bloomfield Road will be widened from Siemers to Stone Bridge.

Mount Auburn Road may be widened from William to Independence.

That's nowhere near the scale of 2001 projects, but the city learned a valuable lesson, leaders say.

Too many projects at once can leave drivers frustrated instead of appreciative.

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