The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 9, 2013

Wally Kennedy: Work to begin on roads around new Mercy hospital

By Wally Kennedy
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Construction of the new Mercy Hospital Joplin at 50th Street and Hearnes Boulevard has, for the most part, affected only the site. That’s about to change.

Beginning this month, roads around the site — 50th Street, Indiana Avenue and Hearnes Boulevard — are going to be changing. Preparatory work for the projects has been under way for a while.

These are not city or state projects; these are projects funded by Mercy Health System.

Indiana Avenue, which is on the east side of the site, is a two-lane road with some roller-coaster ups and downs. The road will be leveled, straightened and resurfaced. It also will be expanded from two lanes to three to create a turning lane.

The plan is to do roughly the same thing with 50th Street, on the south side of the site. But work there will begin during the summer because of traffic associated with South Middle School.

The 50th Street project will involve a lot of earth movement. The street will be lowered to the level of the construction site.

Dave Dahlquist, project manager for McCarthy Building Cos., which is building the hospital, said the goal is “to improve visibility and safety. It will be three times safer than it is now.’’

But wait, there’s more.

Next month, Mercy will begin reconstruction of the onramps and offramps on the south side of Interstate 44. The ramps are being moved closer to the interstate. This work, which will end in May, is not expected to affect traffic flow on Hearnes Boulevard.

The ramps are being moved closer to I-44 to make room for a roundabout that will be constructed at 50th Street. When it is finished, Glendale Road on the west side of Hearnes will be on the opposite side of the roundabout from 50th Street. This, too, will involve some earth movement.

The good news is that construction of the roundabout is being put off until Feb. 1, 2014. Once started, that project will take about five months to complete. The hospital is set to open in 2015.

The ramp project and the roundabout are being monitored by the Missouri Department of Transportation to make sure the work is in compliance with federal highway construction standards.

Might as well update you on the progress of the work at I-44 and South Range Line Road and at Zora and North Main streets. The new Zora and Main street interchange is to be completed in May. The new interchange at Range Line and I-44 is to be completed later this year.

Opening soon

It won’t be long before the new AT&T store at 1702 S. Range Line Road opens. Work to set up the interior of the storefront is progressing. A worker said an opening might take place in a couple of weeks.

One block north at 1602 S. Range Line Road will be the new Cici’s Pizza. Work on the interior of that restaurant was in full swing but has slowed of late. A company spokesman in Springfield said the restaurant could open this month. They’re close, but I’m not sure they’re that close.

16th and Main

The remains of a fire that destroyed two buildings at the southwest corner of 16th and Main streets could be cleaned up in 30 days or so.

The owner of Bucklin’s Furniture Store, one of the destroyed buildings, told me he is not planning on rebuilding and that the owner of the building north of his probably is not planning on rebuilding, either. The lot where Bucklin’s operated for 27 years will be placed on the market.

The building that housed Solace Church, directly south of Bucklin’s, will be restored.

Closing

The Monterrey Downtown Mexican Grill, 212 S. Main St., has closed. I have been told that the restaurant could not generate enough business over the winter to continue.

That’s too bad. It was a small restaurant, but it was big on taste.

If you have news about something happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, call 417-623-3480, ext. 7250; or send an email to wkennedy@joplinglobe.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 417-623-8598.