Marilyn Brown, pointing to an area near the proposed realigned section of McIntosh Circle in Joplin, has the attention of engineers Russell Spruill and David Hertzberg facing her. Behind her to the right is Robert L. Bashor, the right of way negotiator/appraiser for the Joplin Public Works Department and at far right is her husband Martin.
Former Mayor Richard Russell would be the first one to say that the City of Joplin does not move on new projects or ideas in a very speedy manor. What really gave the realignment of Jackson and McIntosh at 32nd St. project a swift kick was made clear after a public meeting held yesterday at the Joplin Municipal Building. Seventeen property owners showed up to find out how they would be affected by the project.
Although city engineers were quick to point out safety problems surrounding the misaligned intersection and with traffic attempting to turn left onto 32nd St. out of the eastern end of McIntosh Circle without benefit of a traffic signal, the impetus for the project is Freeman West's recently announced expansion plans, their desire to create a new main entrance facing southeast, and the need to have a better roadway access to it.
According to an announcement by Emily Stanley, media relations for Freeman Health Systems, the 6-story addition will be the largest expansion in the history of the hospital. It will cost $47 million to construct and should be completed in 2007. For expansion benefits click here.
Freeman is willing to pick up 75% of the cost of constructing a new driveway entrance that would align with 34th St. at McIntosh Circle and alter their existing rear entrance so that traffic could funnel onto the new portion of roadway, south of 32nd St.
As a "civic contribution" Danny Caylor, Freeman's Director of Facilities Management, said that his employer was donating the right to an easement on Freeman-owned property extending along the east side of McIntosh Circle to allow for its realignment.
Freeman's new addition which would protude southward would necessitate replacement of the current rear entrance facing south with one facing east. Caylor said that hospital officials wanted to discourage the use of the main drive on 32nd St.in favor of approaching the rear parking lot via the new roadway that also would lead to a traffic light at 32nd St.
He addressed a concern over a build-up of employee traffic exiting that area by mentioning that most of the employee parking facilities were on the McIntosh West side of the property, creating a split traffic pattern with the east.
But Dr. Herbert Dixon who owns the medical building currently on the corner of McIntosh Circle West and 32nd St. was not convinced that there wouldn't be a back-up of traffic on the new roadway which would run along the eastern side of his building.
"It's who's here first, not who's most powerful," Dixon said when questioning the construction planning that might place a 3-lane roadbed within 25 feet of his building. Calling attention to medical services that require the use of hearing testing, Dixon said that the proximity of the road with its inherent noise would be a hindrance as well as not providing enough of a safety net for out of control vehicles.
Marilyn and Martin Brown of Tulsa were present on behalf of Martin Brown's mother, Ethdyne who owns three properties along Jackson south of 32nd St. The Browns questioned the need to take 70 running feet off of their mother's property for road widening, especially when only an additional 50 feet was needed for widening 32nd St. They also were concerned that she wouldn't be compensated enough for the loss.
Just how much compensation for loss of their properties was the major concern as well for those property owners along the southern side of 32nd St., the side of choice for roadway expansion. According to Russell Spruill, a civil engineer in the City of Joplin's Public Works Department, money already has been set aside for the purchase of the properties, many of which are currently for sale.
"If Freeman continues to grow and if St. John's continues to grow, West 32nd St. is going to look like East 32nd St.," lamented Marilyn Brown, who knew the area long before there was traffic congestion. "Some say it will take 20 years. I don't think so," she added.
For information about the City of Joplin's current projects, click here.
Our previous article, "Realigning Jackson at 32nd St. named a priority," appears here.