The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

June 21, 2012

Our View: Another hand up

JOPLIN, Mo. — More help is on its way to Joplin, but this time the funds will correct a problem that existed long before the May 2011 tornado.

On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill announced a  $12 million grant to help Joplin expand roads and rail projects following the storm. The money will be used toward $23.5 million in street projects, moving up the possibility of constructing train overpasses on two major corridors on which grade crossings now can create traffic delays and congestion.

The money will be used to end traffic delays at train crossings on two key routes, 15th and 20th streets, by building overpasses. It also will provide better traffic flow to heavily used parts of the city such as the medical district by helping to pay for the completion of widening of Schifferdecker Avenue, Maiden Lane and 26th Street.

Completing those projects should help the city in its economic development in the disaster zone. The traffic wait for trains created daily bottlenecks for motorists long before the tornado. And, Kansas City Southern Railway Co. has projected that train traffic will increase from 15 trips through the city a day to 29 as demand for rail transportation rises.

The money comes from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery fund, or the TIGER fund.

McCaskill said Joplin’s “acute need” was likely why its application made it to the top of the stack.

Including this grant, Joplin has now received more than $250 million in federal funds — taxpayer dollars that are going directly to help taxpayers, who in turn will keep the local economy up and going.

Indeed, receiving the grant does allow Joplin a “TIGER by the tail.”

Our job now is to hold on and see that the taxpayers’ money is used wisely and for the purpose it is intended.

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