The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 17, 2012

Business owners object to 15th Street viaduct plan; council deletes project from proposal

Opposition from business owners caused the Joplin City Council on Monday night to nix a plan to build a viaduct over the railroad tracks on 15th Street.

Several business owners along 15th Street, as well as some from Illinois Avenue north of 15th Street and one from Ninth Street, asked minutes before the 6 p.m. meeting to speak to the council about the project. The council had advanced an ordinance at its last two meetings to pay $1 million for a design plan and other work toward construction of the viaduct as well as one on 20th Street. The two viaducts were to be funded mostly from a $12 million federal grant the city had obtained for street and bridge projects. The city was still short $1.5 million for the 15th Street project and had asked the railroad to pay more toward the construction.

Mayor Pro Tem Bill Scearce had spoken against the 15th Street project at the previous meetings. He cited concerns about the effects on businesses and on traffic that would be rerouted through residential areas if the project closed Indiana Avenue and access to Illinois Avenue from 15th Street.

City Manager Mark Rohr told the council that he had directed the city staff to reconfigure the 15th Street viaduct from two lanes to four lanes, but those who asked to speak to the council said the number of lanes was not what spurred them to object to the plan. They did not want the viaduct at all. Increasing the bridge size from two lanes to four lanes would have driven the cost up by $2.1 million, Rohr said.

Edward D. “Bud” Smith, the owner of the Mid-Town Shopping Center in the 800 block of East 15th Street, told the council that while he favors other city efforts for tornado redevelopment, “by building this viaduct you will be killing business. It will be closing businesses, not growing them.”

He said the only access to his shopping center would be on Minnesota Avenue, which would eliminate a lot of business those tenants draw from passing traffic.

He called for the council to delete the 15th Street viaduct and “let the businesses on 15th Street continue to flourish.”

Chris Branch of Yates Trackside Furniture said his business has been located there 33 years. “If this bridge is funded, it will totally put us out of business,” he said.

Brad Baird, owner of several businesses at 818 E. Ninth St., showed the council a flier that was distributed in the area that reported that Ninth and 12th streets would be closed along with construction of the viaduct so that a quiet zone in which trains could pass through without having to blow their horns could be created. Baird was told that was incorrect, and that those streets would not be closed.

Troy Richards of Joplin Building Materials said that company has 32 employees with an annual payroll of $1.2 million. He said the viaduct plan would not leave any way for heavy trucks to reach his business, which would put the company out of business.

“What is really disturbing is the lack of response from the city,” Richards said. He said the city had not done any research on how the proposed project would affect those in the area.

Councilmen Gary Shaw and Mike Woolston said that talking to property owners and holding a public hearing would occur later in the steps.

Scearce had tried to stop the project earlier, contending that the council would be hesitant to vote against it later after the city had paid out the money for the design work.

Linda Teeter, an insurance agent with an office at 1321 S. Illinois Ave., said she has devoted a lot of time to working on city and civic projects and events, and has never asked for anything from the city. She said she wanted the council to strike the project before it affects surrounding businesses like hers.

There was discussion between Councilman Morris Glaze and city staff members about the need for a viaduct because train traffic is soon expected to increase from 24 a day to 39.

Woolston said the business owners seemed to be reacting out of fear of the unknown. If they gave the city time to develop the final engineering plans and property appraisals, they might be pleasantly surprised at the amounts of money they would be offered for the loss of businesses or to move their businesses, he said.

Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg made a motion to delete the 15th Street project from the ordinance the council previously approved authorizing the design work.

The panel approved that motion by a vote of 6-3, with Glaze, Woolston and Shaw voting against stopping the project.

Baird, asked for his reaction after the meeting, said, “I think it’s nice they listened to the community, to the business owners.” He said there may not have been so much opposition if the city had informed residents of the proposal at the onset of the plan.

In other action, the council:

• Approved tax breaks for Jasper Products and Allgeier, Martin & Associates. Jasper Products is constructing a $40 million addition to its plant, and Allgeier is constructing a $3.9 million office building.

• Authorized acceptance of a bid of $16,943,500 from McClanahan Construction Co. for work on the Shoal Creek Wastewater Plant, which is part of a $35 million project to update the city’s wastewater plants for which voters in 2009 authorized revenue bonds.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • r073114rebuildjoplin3.jpg 30 volunteers a day would be a ‘game-changer’ for Rebuild Joplin

    Betty and Louis Wirick, both 79, say they are grateful to have survived the 2011 tornado as it tore down part of their home of 25 years on South Bird Avenue. But three years later, they are frustrated.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Event for veterans on tap at Crowder

    For area veterans who have returned home from more than a decade at war, the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks hopes to send a simple message at an event this weekend: Welcome home.

    August 1, 2014

  • Fair to feature goats, chickens and decorated bras

    Along with the usual fair sights, sounds and smells — livestock, poultry, produce and the like — there will be something a bit unusual at the Cherokee County American Legion Free Fair this year: Decorated brassieres. And pink. Lots of pink.

    August 1, 2014

  • Damien D Doxley 051314.jpg Prison term meted out in carjacking case

    A Newton County judge assessed a defendant in a Joplin carjacking case seven years in prison Friday on a conviction on a charge of tampering with a motor vehicle.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 080114 Older worker1_72.jpg Co-workers, friends honor nurse with 50-year career

    Wilma Massey has worked a half century in health care and, even at the age of 74, she’s the first to arrive at work each morning.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Amendment 7 backers tout safety, new jobs; foes say special interests to benefit

    Billions of dollars are on the line when Missouri voters head to the polls on Tuesday to consider Amendment 7.
    The constitutional amendment, sent to the voters by the Legislature this year, would temporarily increase Missouri’s sales tax by three-quarters of 1 percent, raising an estimated $5.4 billion for the next decade to fund transportation projects. That includes more than $114.1 million in state funds for projects in Newton and Jasper counties, on top of additional revenue for localities that would be raised.
    After the Missouri Department of Transportation downsized in recent years, these projects are now mostly designed and built by private engineers, contractors and laborers — many of whom have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a campaign effort to sway voters to support the measure.
    Last Monday — eight days ahead of the primary election day — supporters of the measure reported having raised more than $4.1 million for a campaign committee called Missourians For Safe Transportation and New Jobs, which was established last fall to support the measure.
    The International Union of Operating Engineers in St. Louis and Kansas City have contributed nearly $250,000 to the effort. That total was dwarfed by the $649,398 put in by the Industry Advancement Fund Heavy Constructors. Between its Missouri and Kansas companies, APAC — a construction contracting company that specializes in transportation projects — has contributed more than $150,000.
    “The whole idea that money is flowing into the campaign, of course it is,” said Sen. John Lamping, a St. Louis Republican who is opposed to the measure. “It would be a smart business decision to do that.”
    Lamping said the money pouring into the campaign supporting Amendment 7 is indicative of the financial gain the measure bodes for contractors and laborers.  
    Lamping proposed a measure in the Legislature that would redirect one-eighth of existing sales and use tax revenue directly to transportation projects, but he said that measure was rejected by legislative leaders. The coalition “didn’t hear about it,” the outgoing senator said, “because it was my idea instead of someone else’s idea.”
    Lamping, who filibustered a similar measure in 2013, said Republicans have an ideological consistency problem on the issue. He pointed to the Legislature passing a sales tax increase only a few weeks after overriding Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of an income tax cut that will largely help businesses organized as limited liability corporations, like many of the companies that could benefit from the measure. Lamping said that the tax increase will mostly affect taxpayers who did not get a significant tax cut.
    “Who wants a tax cut in Missouri?” he said. “Businesses. (Republican leaders) wanted to make them happy and then they passed a tax cut. This is grand-scale special interest cronyism.”
    The ad campaign being funded mostly by the business interests features paramedics and construction workers claiming the measure would “fix our roads and keep Missouri families safe.”
    “We have a chance to give our highways and bridges the repairs they need,” says one ad, which is running in Joplin and statewide in the lead up to Tuesday’s vote. “We have a chance to fix what’s broken by voting yes on Amendment 7.”
    The commercial uses a lot of words to talk about the benefits of the measure, but two words in particular are noticeably absent from the commercial: “Tax increase.”  
    “The ads don’t mention any of the ballot language,” said Jewell Patek, a spokesman for Missourians For Safe Transportation and New Jobs. “We figure Missourians will see the language when they go to the polls.”
    Patek, a former state representative who now lobbies the Legislature, said he disagreed with Lamping’s notion that Amendment 7 is all about special interest gain.
    “There’s quite a bit to gain for Missourians,” he said. “We have serious road needs. We’ll win or lose by the benefits in Amendment 7. I’m not sure I agree with Senator Lamping’s assessment.”
    If approved, Amendment 7 would prevent an increase in the state’s fuel tax, a funding boost opponents of the amendment like Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and some of the state’s social welfare groups have said would be more appropriate because it could pull in revenue from people who use the roads — like the state’s trucking industry.
    The Missouri Truckers Association’s political action committee has contributed more than $27,000 to the effort to pass the measure. Tom Crawford, president of the association, said his members support the amendment because they see the problems on the road and deal with them every day. And passage of the measure does not mean anyone will stop paying fuel tax.
    “We overpay our fair share on the fuel tax,” he said, pointing to statistics by the American Transportation Research Institute that show truckers have accounted for about 14 percent of road usage while paying for 39 percent of all taxes and fees owed by motorists. “We pay sales taxes just like everybody does on goods and products that people buy in the stores.”
    Crawford said truck companies do not pay state sales taxes on the purchase of trucks, but they do pay a federal tax. “So, we won’t be impacted on new equipment purchase, but other areas of our business will be impacted just like every other taxpayer in the state will,” he said.
    Thomas Shrout, who is helping lead the campaign against the tax hike, said that is not good enough and that Amendment 7 lets truck drivers off the hook. “Under Amendment 7, they wouldn’t have to pay any more,” he said.
    Shrout’s opposition campaign has raised just over $27,000 — less than 1 percent of the total money raised by its supporters. They are targeting their opposition at the state’s urban core by spending money on direct mail and targeted robocalls in the final week.
    “We think using the sales tax to fund road projects is poor policy for the state of Missouri,” he said. “It should be rejected.”
    Shrout said the Missouri Department of Transportation and its supporters should go back to the drawing board and consider some of the other options like campaigning for toll roads or a gas tax increase — both based on road usage.
    Representatives for APAC and the Heavy Constructors Association declined requests for comment.

    Tuesday’s election
    Amendment 7 is one of five measures voters will consider when they head to the polls on Tuesday. Statewide, local election officials reported to the Missouri secretary of state that it was their estimate that about 27 percent of the state’s 4.06 million registered voters will show up to vote, including 25 percent of registered voters in Jasper County and 30 percent in Newton County.

    August 1, 2014

  • Brownback names 3 Kansas Board of Regents members

    Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday named a former veteran Kansas House member and two attorneys to the board overseeing the state’s higher education system.

    August 1, 2014

  • Grant to fund solar energy system for PSU’s Plaster Center

    An $80,000 grant from Westar Energy will fund solar panels to provide both energy and education at the Robert W. Plaster Center, now under construction at Pittsburg State University.

    August 1, 2014

  • Survey seeks views on Joplin’s future goals

    Residents are being asked to fill out a survey on priorities for Joplin’s future. The effort was inspired by a meeting of community leaders last month. Survey forms are available at the Joplin Public Library and online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/jointjoplinareaplanningsurvey.

    July 31, 2014

  • Habitat slates volunteer work days

    In the wake of the 2011 tornado, Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity has been a partner with organizations and individuals in the construction of 86 new houses. But what’s also needed, Executive Director Scott Clayton said, are repairs to area homes.

    July 31, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Do you plan on voting in the Aug. 5 elections being held in Missouri and Kansas?

Yes
No
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter