The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 5, 2012

Globe obtains preliminary design of proposed 15th Street train viaduct

From staff reports

JOPLIN, Mo. — A preliminary design for a proposed bridge over the Kansas City Southern Railroad line on 15th Street shows that the bridge will affect properties from the alley of Minnesota Avenue east past Wisconsin Avenue, approximately five blocks.

The plan drew criticism Monday night from Councilman Bill Scearce. There have been discussions at two recent council meetings about concerns expressed by property owners who will be affected.

The council has advanced a measure to accept a $12 million federal grant for street and bridge projects from the U.S. Department of Transportation that would include a partial allocation for the project. The city still will need to raise about $1.5 million of the $5.27 million estimated construction costs before the bridge can be built.

It will be a two-lane bridge on what has been a four-lane street.

Councilman Bill Scearce said he believes the closure of Indiana Avenue to build the bridge would create “some problems with dumping all that traffic into those neighborhoods” between 20th and 15th streets from Indiana Avenue to Michigan Avenue.

Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg said it looked like the new bridge would close side streets from Michigan Avenue west to Minnesota Avenue on 15th Street.

Jack Schaller, assistant public works director, said the intent of building a bridge over the train tracks is to make the area safer for motorists and pedestrians. He said the area has a high rate of accidents because of the train crossing.

Closing streets in the area would result in detours of only one to two blocks for many motorists, Schaller said, which he said is considered “fairly minimal.” He did not offer any statistics on how many cars the plan could reroute onto residential streets.

The council discussed the preliminary design in an open meeting but the opinion of the city attorney was sought on whether the drawing could be released by the public works department as sought by The Joplin Globe so that residents could view the proposal. The city released the drawing on Wednesday.