U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood visited Joplin on Tuesday to discuss a $12 million federal grant that will help pay for two overpasses at Kansas City Southern railroad crossings on 15th and 20th streets.
The work will help end traffic delays at train crossings on two key routes.
“This kind of investment in Joplin ... creates good jobs for Jasper County,” LaHood said during a press conference at Joplin City Hall. “It (also) continues your mission of recovery as well as laying down a strong foundation for future economic growth.”
Joplin’s application for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funding was one of 703 applications the U.S. Department of Transportation received this year. In the end, only 47 applications were granted, LaHood said. The Joplin grant was the only one from Missouri that was given approval.
“I’m telling you, the TIGER grant we’ve received is a major thing for Joplin,” Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean said during the press conference. “It will help us continue our recovery and rebuilding process (and) it will help Joplin grow.”
LaHood said he met the mayor and other Joplin officials in the past at national conferences and those meetings didn’t hurt the city’s chances.
“The fact that (Joplin officials) worked with us, the fact that we continued to talk to them, the fact that they put in an application that we felt would enhance the community’s ability not only to rebuild but complete a couple of important projects that are critical for the community — that all helped,” LaHood said. “But probably more than anything else, they worked with us over the last couple of years to get their application into a position where we thought it would be meritorious. And here today, it all comes back home in a way that reflects the very strong leadership of the community.”
Kansas City Southern has projected that train traffic will increase from 15 trips through the city a day to 29 as demand for rail transportation rises.
The $12 million is part of $23.5 million in street projects the city is proposing.
The city had been setting aside money from two sales taxes — the three-eighths-cent capital projects tax and the half-cent transportation tax — toward the projects.
“For those people who said the economic stimulus (package) didn’t work, that’s baloney,” LaHood said. “It did work. It’s working right here (in Joplin). It will help build a brighter future,” he said.
15th Street train overpass: $8 million.
20th Street train overpass: $7 million.
Maiden Lane widening: $4 million.
Schifferdecker Avenue widening: $2 million.
26th Street widening: $2 million.
20th Street upgrades: $500,000.