The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 17, 2013

Joplin mayor says grant under reconsideration

JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin may not lose all of the $12 million federal highway grant it has been awarded as the result of a City Council decision to delete the 15th Street viaduct project.

Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean said she has spoken with Ray LaHood, the U.S. secretary of transportation. Department officials will decide whether most of the grant can be retained to complete the other projects named in it.

“I believe we will be able to keep the TIGER grant to do the 20th Street viaduct,” she said. “We may lose $500,000” from the part of the grant that would have been used for more work on the 15th Street project. The city had completed some preliminary engineering and design work and bills for that work would have to be paid by the city.

The Federal Highway Administration last year granted the money for projects to try to help the city redevelop from the 2011 tornado. The city had applied for money to widen Schifferdecker Avenue, 26th Street from McClelland Boulevard to Schifferdecker, and build viaducts on 15th and 20th streets.

A majority of the council voted earlier this month to nix the 15th Street project as the result of opposition from business owners along the corridor and on intersecting Illinois Avenue. That decision caused uncertainty among city officials on whether the Transportation Department would allow an amendment to the grant.

There has been no final official word on that yet.

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