Highway 34/72 improvements given green light

Tuesday, December 3, 2002

After months of negotiations over the details of proposed improvements to Highways 34/72 within the city of Jackson, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and the city have agreed on a contract that will enable the project to proceed.

"We didn't get everything we wanted," Mayor Paul Sander said, in particular the request that MoDOT go back to its earlier plan of designing the improvements for five lanes instead of four.

But MoDOT officials did agree to half the 22 changes the city sought.

One of the most important concessions the city received was the addition of left-turn lanes off Highway 25 onto Jackson Trail, making some of the city's largest industries more accessible to tractor trailer rigs than they would have been under MoDOT's initial plan.

The Jackson Board of Aldermen approved the contract with MoDOT at the board's meeting Monday night.

The plan for the 3 1/2-mile stretch between the intersection with Highway 25 west to the point where Highway 34 and Highway 72 diverge is to be completed in three phases at a cost of $16 million. It calls for:

Replacing Hubble and Cane Creek bridges.

The addition of traffic signals at South Oklahoma Street, South Farmington Road, West Main Street and East Lane.

A new hiking/biking trail connecting R.O. Hawkins Junior High School and Jackson High School.

Permanent closure of North and South Colorado Street, South Union Avenue, Dallas Street and West Vale Drive.

Once MoDOT acquires the needed right of way, Sander said he expects the first phase to begin and to be completed during the 2003 construction season. The first phase extends from the intersection with Highway 25 west to West Lane.

Sander said the contract will not preclude the city and MoDOT from making further minor changes in the plan.

In other business, the board approved a $19,000 contract with Schultz Engineering Services Inc. of Poplar Bluff, Mo., to study the city's electric rates.

The rates the city charges residential, commercial and industrial customers were last adjusted in 1990.

The city, which generates some of its own electricity, will pay higher rates itself under a new contract with Ameren Energy.

"That doesn't automatically mean rates will go up," city administrator Jim Roach said.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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