An area of south Joplin poised for potential growth with the construction of Mercy Hospital may carry enough traffic to warrant expansion of south Connecticut Avenue to five lanes.
That is the conclusion of a transportation consulting company hired by Joplin to evaluate possible future street needs. The conclusions were presented Thursday by Tom Dancey, senior vice president of CJW Transportation Consultants of Springfield at a meeting of the Joplin Area Transportation Study Organization. JATSO is a regional planning group made up of representatives of area cities, counties and the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Nearly a dozen residents of Leawood, a village neighboring the new medical center, were on hand to hear the report.
Dancey said past traffic studies of the area were consulted, and the predictions for possible growth by the hospital and the Joplin School District were taken into consideration. The consultants also looked at possible future land use changes, such as the expansion of commercial development in the Silver Creek Galleria and future development of land at 44th Street and Connecticut Avenue as well as the potential for multifamily senior housing or nursing homes. The information was used to project potential growth by the years 2015, 2025 and 2030.
“Traffic modeling indicates that the existing roadway network, although currently adequate, is grossly undersized to handle the additional trips generated by the changes in land uses in the future,” reads the consultant’s written report. The report was distributed at the meeting.
That report forecasts more than 71,800 trips a day made on the streets in the area within the next couple of years. For instance, traffic on Connecticut Avenue around 44th Street could increase from 4,800 to almost 18,900 a day. A similar increase could occur on 44th Street.
Recommendations for the near term, or the next few years, if traffic count increases as projected, are:
• Widen Connecticut Avenue from 32nd Street to 44th Street to five lanes.
• Widen 44th Street from Connecticut to Range Line Road to five lanes.
• Upgrade the major intersections, such as putting up traffic signals at intersections like 44th and Connecticut.
• Mark 50th Street as a potential new two-lane street to Range Line and preserve its right of way by getting it designated on long-term maps, studying the path for a new road and planning for the flood plain in its path.
One resident asked if there were recommendations for 44th Street between Indiana and Connecticut. Dancey said the road should be leveled and water drainage installed.
Residents asked how the street projects would be financed.
Joplin’s public works director, David Hertzberg, said the work would have to be done with proceeds from the city’s capital projects tax.
Leawood resident Marcia Long said she thinks the study did not take into account the amount of motorists that would drive Interstate 44 from Range Line to Main Street rather than taking the smaller streets. She said residents maintained their neighborhoods around the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center, which was destroyed by the 2011 tornado, and near Freeman Hospitals and Cox Medical Center South in Springfield.
“People may have to drive the speed limits so that the residents can co-exist” with the growth, she said. She would like there to be some green space left if further development occurs, though.
Range Line Road, eventually, might need to be widened to five lanes from I-44 south to 44th Street, the consultant said.