Progress Parkway Crosswalk Project May Finally Be Ready For Approval

By Mark Evans

Ste. Genevieve Herald

Why did the chicken cross the road? Because some two years of red tape had finally been cleared, allowing it to do so.

For about two years the Ste. Genevieve County Commission tried to find a safe way for patrons to cross Progress Parkway between the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center and its other amenities on the west side of the road and the new River Rapids Waterpark on the east side.

It appears that the final obstacles holding up the project are being scaled.

Plans changed from a crosswalk, to an elevated pedestrian bridge above the road and back to a crosswalk.

The ornate bridge, designed by Smith & Company of Poplar Bluff, to carry pedestrians across the road above traffic was the favored plan, but it ran into various obstacles. To maintain handicapped accessibility, some 180-200 feet of wheelchair ramp would have had to have snaked around the hillside.

It was decided that an elevator, while adding some expense to the project, was the logical answer.

The county had been approved for a Transportation Alternative Project [TAP] grant that would pay for 75 percent of the project. The bridge and replacement of the city walking trail, damaged during community center construction projects, was estimated at about $310,000 at one point, although it later rose.

However, a pair of US mandates requiring Us-made steel to be used in elevators and the confusion between the two

That problem turned out to be the difference between the Buy American Act and existing “Buy America” statutes.

“That one ‘n’ really made a difference,” engineer Jeremy Manning remarked in April.

The elevator and bridge finally had to be abandoned and the project switched back to a crosswalk with ramps. It had to go back to area Regional Planning Commissions [RPCs] and be reapproved in its amended version, then get Missouri Department of Transportation [MoDOT] and Federal Highway Administration [FHA] approval.

Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson said he had been informed by Drew Christian of the SEMO RPC that  the revised project had cleared its last hurdle and that work could start on it this fall, weather permitting.

“I called Drew and expressed our appreciation, Nelson said. “He was very professional in  presentation to the other RPCs and got his point across.”

MoDOT must still approve. Christian said he would touch base with the county’s primary MoDOT connection, Chris Crocker. Associate clerk Michele Gatzemeyer said she had already emailed Crocker, but had not yet heard back as back Thursday morning.

“Time is running out,” Nelson said. “It has to be put out for bid after some fine-tuning. It’s been dragging out for Two years.

Brad Arnold, community center executive director, expressed confidence that the final hurdle would easily be scaled.

“The walkway was Federal Highway and MoDOT’s idea in the first place,” he said.