SPRINGFIELD, NOV. 6—The city of Springfield has federal backing in place for a placemaking project designed to connect downtown Springfield to the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.
Even city officials were surprised by the $21 million grant announcement by Sen. Roy Blunt’s office. The Nov. 6 announcement came earlier than expected, and it was Springfield’s second time applying for the grant. The request was denied in 2018.
This year, Springfield was picked among some $900 million worth of projects through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Transportation Discretionary Grants program, aka BUILD. The federal government officially announced Nov. 12 that 55 projects in 35 states were awarded grant funds, including Springfield’s Grant Avenue Parkway Trail Connection Project.
Roughly $5.2 million in city matching funds are required for the project to create a greenway trail system and numerous transportation improvements along a 3.3-mile stretch of Grant Avenue from Sunshine Street north to Walnut Street.
Stakeholders, including the city, Ozark Greenways Inc. and City Utilities of Springfield, have big plans in mind, including bike lanes, a roundabout, bridge enhancements, utility upgrades, fiber connectivity, additional crossings and signal timing improvements.
“Historically, these types of projects can have those economic vitality impacts for the region where they’re at and serve as a connectivity piece,” City Manager Jason Gage told Springfield Business Journal in November.
For the city, the grant funding coincides with the start of Forward SGF, its next 20-year comprehensive plan.
However, city officials must move faster than that. Preconstruction activities must be complete by Sept. 30, 2021, and the grant funding requires the project must wrap up by 2026.
The project also means an expansion to Ozark Greenways’ trail system, with connections to the Fassnight Creek and Jordan Creek greenways.
“The next five or six years will be huge,” said Ozark Greenways Executive Director Mary Kromrey in November.
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