A future west bypass is rated as the top priority road project for the Joplin area, members of the Joplin Area Transportation Study Organization agreed on Monday.
Members of JATSO, which includes representatives of Joplin, Webb City and Carl Junction, Jasper and Newton counties, and the Missouri Department of Transportation, on Monday rated the importance of about 80 area road and bridge projects. Those projects were suggested during a three-week public comment period conducted by MoDOT.
David Hertzberg of Joplin’s Public Works Department said the most important project to the area for economic development reasons is the construction of a west bypass corridor, a new highway to be built on the west side of Joplin proposed roughly for the area of Central City Road. It would link Interstate 44 to Joplin, Carl Junction and Webb City via Zora Street, which connects to Missouri Highway 249.
Other priorities identified in Joplin are the widening of 32nd Street from Schifferdecker Avenue to Central City Road, and South Connecticut Avenue including a bridge over I-44.
Those fit in with rankings given last week by a panel of Joplin residents who will make recommendations to the City Council on proposing renewal of the city’s three-eighths-cent capital projects sales tax.
The Capital Improvements Sales Tax Renewal Committee last week recommended widening 32nd Street in two phases, and rated those phases as No. 1 and No. 2 priorities from a list of 43 city projects. The panel placed South Connecticut Avenue widening from 32nd Street to 44th Street as No. 6, and widening of its bridge over I-44 as No. 9.
In addition to those projects for Joplin, Dan Salisbury of MoDOT said another Joplin project that warrants high priority is the future reconstruction of Seventh Street from Range Line Road to Schifferdecker Avenue. He said a portion of the roadbed around Illinois Avenue needs to be replaced rather than repaired.
Another high priority is replacing the low-water bridge over Shoal Creek on South Jackson Avenue, said Marilyn Ruestman, Newton County presiding commissioner.
Carl Francis, interim city administrator and police chief at Webb City, said a top priority there is widening Hall Street from Missouri Highway 171 to Zora Street.
In Carl Junction, the widening of Missouri 171 from Fir Road to Route Z/Pennell Street is a high priority, said City Administrator Steve Lawver.
In addition to ranking potential road and bridge projects, JATSO members approved a Clean Air Action Plan presented by the Four-States Clean Air Alliance.
Dan Pekarek, Joplin Health Department director and a representative of the alliance, said the plan addresses ways to educate the public about methods that can be used to try to keep the Joplin area in adherence with federal ozone regulations for air pollution. Pekarek said the area registered levels of ozone slightly above the federal standard during heat waves in 2011 and 2012, but that last year’s cooler, wetter weather helped lower those readings.
In addition to the weather, the levels can be affected by motor vehicle fumes and other pollutants.
PROJECT RANKINGS are based on advantages for economic development, motorist safety, accessibility to freight, and use by pedestrians and bicyclists.