A long-awaited trail connecting Missouri Southern State University to the Northpark Mall area will be completed as the result of City Council action to authorize a construction contract for the project.

The project has been in the works since March 2013, when the city obtained a cost-share agreement for the project with the Missouri Department of Transportation. Under that agreement, the state agreed to pay up to $272,732 of the cost. The city's share will be about $145,000.

After that, delays were encountered that held the project up for several years, said David Hertzberg, the city's public works director. It took about two years to do floodplain work and another two years for right of way negotiations to be completed.

The trail is to be a 10-foot-wide, asphalt-covered trail that will accommodate both pedestrians and bicyclists. There also will be a bridge over Turkey Creek. It will be a two-span concrete slab beam bridge 90 feet long.

The public works director said that the city received two bids for construction, but both exceeded the engineering estimate for the project by more than 10%, which could have resulted in rebidding. City staff, conferring with MoDOT, decided not to rebid because it was believed that could result in higher prices and further delay the time frame for construction.

For those reasons, city staff recommended to go with a contract with D&E Heating Inc. of Springfield for $365,599. With approval by the council at its meeting Monday night, the work will begin this spring, and the path is to be completed by July 31.

The trail is being done to make it easier for students, particularly those who live in dorms on the university campus, to walk or bike to the mall or the nearby movie theater. The mall built a section of trail from the mall to connect to the city trail.

Other business

The council also approved an engineering contract with Allgeier, Martin & Associates to design an addition to a city garage at the Joplin Police Department offices. The addition will provide for a place to load and unload jail prisoners in a closed garage to reduce the opportunity for a prisoner to flee, said Lynden Lawson, assistant public works director over operations. He said that has been recommended by the city's insurer.

Also, a shower accessible to the disabled would be added for use by the jail. The council was told that the existing jail delousing shower is not wide enough for entry by people in wheelchairs. It would be a more expensive project to widen the existing jail door because the public safety building at 303 E. Third St. is enforced with steel and rebar.

The engineering services will cost $28,130.

In other matters, the council:

• Authorized a contract with Olsson to provide engineering services for work to be done on three digesters at the Turkey Creek and Shoal Creek wastewater treatment plants.

• Approved contracts with Allgeier, Martin & Associates for $39,000 for a new sewer lift station at 44th Street and Virginia Avenue; and, in another contract, for engineering consultation amounting to $93,000 for several small projects at the city's sewer treatment plants.

• Authorized the purchase of some replacement laptops for the police department and for animal control officers.

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