YOUR BUSINESS AUTHORITY
Springfield City Council accepted two grants and authorized applications for two others at its Aug. 22 meeting.
Council accepted a $1.2 million Surface Transportation Block Grant from the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to fund the replacement of traffic signal infrastructure and the construction of fiber optic communications facilities. The city’s 20% match will come from its eighth-cent transportation sales tax to complete funding for the $1.5 million project.
Tom Dancey, city traffic engineer, said the project will replace six traffic signals, coupled with reconstruction of sidewalk and curb ramps to bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The project also adds fiber optic communications facilities along two corridors.
Traffic signal replacements will be at the intersections of Battlefield Road and Fort Avenue, Campbell Avenue and Broadmoor Street, Grant Avenue and Atlantic Street, Grant Avenue and High Street, Kimbrough Avenue and Madison Street, and National Avenue and Dale Street.
Additionally, fiber optic communications conduit, cable and pull boxes will be constructed along National Avenue from Kearney Street to Commercial Street and on Battlefield Road from Kansas Expressway to Fort Avenue.
Dancey said cameras will be mounted in areas where fiber interconnect is being installed, and police will be able to access footage from them.
As previously reported, the city was awarded a $17.5 million American Rescue Plan Good Jobs Challenge Grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to lead workforce training partnerships in health care, trucking and education industries. Council accepted the grant at the Aug. 22 meeting.
In conjunction with the grant, council added six full-time equivalent positions in the Department of Workforce Development to fulfil the responsibilities of the grant. The new roles are a grant coordinator, a program compliance coordinator, three workforce development specialists and an administrative assistant.
Sally Payne, director of workforce development, said the Springfield grant is the only one among awardees to include the education field among its training opportunities. She added only 32 grants were awarded nationally, and Springfield was the only recipient in the state.
Council approved an application for a grant through the Federal Highway Administration’s Bridge Investment Program, part of the $550 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law in 2021.
The amount being applied for was not specified in the explanation provided to council by city staff, though the grant would cover 80% of the construction costs of the proposed project, with the 20% match coming from the city’s quarter-cent capital improvement sales tax, eighth-cent transportation sales tax and level property tax.
Kirkland Preston, stormwater management engineer for the city, told council the application bundles four areas of improvement.
“The bridge investment program is a competitive, discretionary federal grant program that allows applicants to package several bridges together as a bundle of projects,” he said.
The project would replace bridges and a culvert over Jordan Creek, including the Walnut Street, Main Avenue and Campbell Avenue bridges and a Boonville Avenue box culvert.
Councilperson Matthew Simpson asked about linking the projects to greenways.
“As we’re thinking about these projects and thinking about the design of them, are we making sure to incorporate opportunities to improve or expand upon the greenway trails passing under or over these bridges?” he asked.
Preston said greenway linkages are indeed part of the plan.
“For example, the Walnut Street bridge currently doesn’t have any pedestrian facilities, and the current design has both a sidewalk and a 10-foot multiuse path as part of that design” he said.
The other grant application authorized by council was for up to $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. It would allow acceptance of food waste for landfill diversion, as well as outreach efforts to promote program participation.
Ashley Krug, market development coordinator with the office of Environmental Services, said the application would extend the life of the city’s landfill.
“As many of you know, our primary goal for outreach and education is really to focus on waste diversion through maximizing our landfill life span for several generations,” she said at the meeting.
She said food waste makes up 12% of material sent to the landfill, surpassed only by cardboard.
The grant would allow pre- and post-consumer waste to be collected and accepted at the yard waste facility, with residential drop-off to be developed as well.
Krug said currently a resident would have to pay a private hauler to pick up food waste, but the grant would allow free drop-off instead. The food waste would be turned into compost.
Councilperson Heather Hardinger said she loved the plan.
“This is a really, really great initiative,” she said, adding the U.S. sends 180 billion pounds of food waste to landfills each year. “Hopefully we can turn this into something that’s more sustainable for our city.”
Krug said roughly 70% of materials sent to the landfill could be recycled instead. She added the life expectancy of the landfill is estimated at 50-75 years.
Councilperson Craig Hosmer pointed out that the estimate is declining.
“It wasn’t too long ago we thought we had a 100-year life cycle for the landfill,” he said.
Krug said more tonnage is being received than at any point in the past, and growth is anticipated. As a result, the outlook for the landfill’s life span has been shortened.
Urban Studios LLC, a natural light photography studio and pop-up event space, opened; the Missouri State University Foundation became the new owner of event venue The Old Glass Place; and Polk County’s dining scene expanded with the opening of Flat Creek.