Completion of Silver Springs project unlikely by school start

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

The project manager of the Silver Springs Road project isn't too optimistic the work will be done by the time the first bell rings Sept. 3.

"I won't commit on that, but it doesn't look like it," said Rusty Lappe, project manager of Lappe Cement Finishing. "But we should be doing pretty good by the time school starts."

The project is the stretch of road from Mount Auburn to Kingshighway that passes in front of the new Central High School and the Career and Technology Center.

A lot of the preliminary work on the five-lane street has been completed, and the cement pouring could begin later this week, Lappe said.

Melanie Gertis, the assistant city engineer, said all the storm piping and sanitary sewer work is finished.

"As of right now, it looks on schedule, and hopefully we'll have pavement to drive on before school starts or right after," she said.

Lappe said construction will begin as soon as the utility poles are moved out of the way. Construction workers also are waiting for AmerenUE to move a gas line, Lappe said.

Braced for possibility

The city had assured school district administrators the project would be completed by the time school started, but several things delayed the project, including obtaining easements from adjoining landowners. The money wasn't there to move up the project, city leaders say.

Schools superintendent Mark Bowles said he and others have been bracing themselves for the possibility that Silver Springs Road wouldn't be done in time for school.

"If he had five lanes done past the bus entrance or even past the student entrance, we could make it. At least, that's what we're praying for so we can bring buses in on Silver Springs Road," he said.

There's access to student parking on a long driveway connected to Mount Auburn Road, he said. The school district is taking possession of the new Central High School from contractors this week.

The city accepted a $768,335 bid from Lappe Cement Finishing for the project, roughly $265,000 below the estimated cost.

The stretch of Silver Springs in front of the schools should be completed no later than Sept. 29, Gertis said.

State planning intersection

Meanwhile, progress is moving slowly on another stage of the project -- the intersection of Silver Springs and Kingshighway.

Barry Horst, project development engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation, said MoDOT is putting some numbers and plans together to submit to the state headquarters. The application calls for 50-50 funding, Horst said, which means the state would match the amount paid by the city.

Such applications are reviewed by MoDOT once every quarter, meaning plans will not be approved until at least October. If the state grants approval, MoDOT would then design the project, Horst said. He added the intersection likely would begin next spring.

Horst said the project would include a stoplight and turn lanes.

City planner Kent Bratton said MoDOT is not being uncooperative.

"We're just working on the actual process of getting it done," Bratton said. "There has to be some sort of agreement to determine who will do the engineering and look at the cost involved in all that."

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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