Jackson tackles an overall street plan

Friday, May 31, 2002

As a growing community, Jackson is taking a systematic approach to traffic through town. A group of townspeople has been asked for ideas and suggestions, and a consultant is gathering information and will make recommendations in about two months.

Jackson has a lot of street and highway ideas to consider right now. At the same time the city is looking at a comprehensive transportation plan, it also is getting ready for the widening of Highway 34-72 from Highway 25 west to the Highway 34 junction. And it is still working on a new interchange on Interstate 55 for East Main Street.

All of the projects -- and the need for them -- are indicators of Jackson's growth and its expectations for future expansion. Because the city has seen so much growth in recent years, there are bottlenecks in some places.

For quite some time there has been a traffic crunch around the courthouse square, particularly at certain times of the day. A comprehensive plan will look at that area of town, but other trouble spots also will be looked at closely.

The effort to untangle some of the tie-ups has had a coordinated feel to it from the start. After the board of aldermen commissioned the comprehensive plan, some 40 business and community leaders were recruited to participate. And a consultant -- Crawford, Bunte, Brammeier of St. Louis -- was hired to put the plan together based on local input.

At a meeting last week, members of the committee and representatives of the consulting firm got together for some preliminary discussions about some of the areas that are considered to have the most problems. The courthouse area figured prominently in those discussions.

Several approaches have been suggested that include traffic signals, medians and a roundabout to move traffic more smoothly through the square.

Meanwhile, every major intersection has been rated by the consultants, and members of the transportation committee are being asked to share their ideas about these intersections.

There is no plan that will satisfy everyone on the committee, much less everyone who lives in Jackson or who drives on Jackson's streets and highways. In addition, virtually all of the streets under consideration are state roads, which means the Missouri Department of Transportation must be involved, both in the planning and the execution of whatever plan is developed.

Jackson's approach is one that allows considerable public input. In addition, the thoroughness of the planning process makes it possible to consider how changes at one intersection might affect other traffic areas.

When the consultants return with more concrete ideas and suggestions, there should be a lot of ideas based on good background information and public ideas. This sounds like a good way to tackle the city's transportation needs.

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