Before signing off on more than $80 million worth of capital improvement projects through at least 2018, Springfield City Council will be weighing property owner support on a proposed plan to widen a roughly half-mile stretch of Fremont Avenue.
Council on Feb. 12 again deferred deciding whether to approve the city’s 2018 capital improvements program plan, after choosing two weeks prior to table the list of projects to address concerns centered on a planned $2 million widening of Fremont from Sunset Street south to Battlefield Road.
Mayor Ken McClure motioned Feb. 12 for the second tabling, garnering unanimous support from the dais, minus former Zone 4 Councilman Craig Fishel, who resigned Feb. 2 to seek the 136th District seat in the Missouri House of Representatives.
“Projects included in this proposal were adopted by the voters overwhelmingly in the April 2016 election,” McClure noted. “We take those commitments from the voters very seriously. We also take very seriously that we want to be fair in dealing with all of the affected property owners as we go forward.”
McClure said he would work with City Manager Greg Burris to query affected property owners. McClure said after the meeting that a time line is not yet in place for what will be a “frank” conversation with the landowners, handled outside of a public forum.
After announcing his Zone 4 council resignation on Jan. 29, Fishel failed to remove from the list of projects the planned Fremont widening to four lanes of traffic and a 10-foot-wide bicycle lane.
“I feel like it’s a project that, if it’s needed, it may need to be looked at 10 years from now,” he said, “but I would like to have this project removed from that list.”
Fishel said traffic has remained unchanged throughout that stretch of road and seemed to take issue with acquiring property on the east side of the street, involving Meador Park, Battlefield Mall and other businesses.
Fishel suggested the project could cost more than $2.5 million with the needed property buyouts, noting that sum could be freed for other public improvements projects.
Later during the Jan. 29 meeting, Councilwoman Jan Fisk opted to hold a study session on the Fremont project, rather than removing the project altogether. Fisk then moved to table the CIP for reconsideration at the next meeting. By a 6-3 vote, council supported Fisk, with council members Thomas Prater, Craig Hosmer and Kristi Fulnecky rejecting the option.
On Feb. 12, the opposition relented, with council voting 8-0 in support of again tabling the multimillion-dollar list of projects.
Totaling some $395 million through 2023, the CIP includes nearly $50 million for Springfield-Branson National Airport work, including more than half the funds for runway and taxiway improvements; some $106 million to bolster the city’s sanitary sewer system; and $133.5 million in street projects.
Among the largest projects in the five-year plan is $33.2 million to expand Kansas Expressway from Republic Road south to Farm Road 190 in Greene County.
Smaller street projects in the pipeline are:
• $7.7 million to widen South Campbell Avenue into a six-lane primary arterial street from Battlefield Road to South Avenue, just north of Republic Road;
• $5.2 million for improvements to Central Street between Grant and Clay avenues;
• $4.2 million for intersection improvements at Campbell Avenue and Walnut Lawn Road;
• $3 million for streetscape improvements along College Street between Seventh Avenue and Ninth Avenue; and
• $2 million to improve interconnectivity of bicycle routes, sidewalks, greenway trails and transit routes.
Council tabled the bill until its Feb. 26 meeting.
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