City of Springfield, Mo. awarded $21 million BUILD grant to improve Grant Avenue

SPRNGFIELD, Mo. (Edited News Release) -- U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s office announced the city of Springfield will receive $21 million to create the Grant Avenue Parkway, a major multi-modal transportation improvements, along Grant Avenue in the heart of Springfield.

City of Springfield

Senator Blunt sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao earlier this year urging funding for the project.Funding is from a BUILD Transportation Grant. BUILD stands for “Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Transportation Discretionary Grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

This 3.3-mile stretch of “parkway” would create an attractive corridor connecting vibrant downtown Springfield to the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, with various neighborhoods, parks, greenway connections and other amenities in between.

“The city of Springfield is so excited about this transformational news. This grant will help the City take a giant step forward in carrying out the City Council priorities of Economic Vitality and Quality of Place. We are extremely grateful for the superb congressional support, which has made this grant a reality,” said Mayor Ken McClure.

The Grant Avenue Parkway is a proposed project to create an off-street pedestrian and bicycle pathway along Grant Avenue between Sunshine Street and Walnut Street, in the heart of Springfield. The 3.3-mile stretch will connect downtown Springfield with the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium (WOW) – linking authentic Springfield experiences for both residents and visitors. The Parkway route would further connect parks and recreation amenities, neighborhoods, schools, and fill a gap in the Ozark Greenways rural trail network.

Mayor Ken McClure said Grant Avenue serves as the perfect place for the parkway because of it's accessibility for tourism.

"People are coming in town to go to a very attractive, nationally recognized museum on the south side and our downtown has been so vibrant in the last few years," he said. "There's been so much activity so it makes good sense to tie those two together."

The parkway will start downtown and end at Sunshine Street, including bike lanes, a roundabout, various traffic-calming improvements, a grade-separated crossing at Fassnight Creek, bridge enhancement, utility upgrades, fiber connectivity and additional crossing and signal timing improvements.

Downtown Springfield’s renaissance has been steady over the past 20 years. Over one-half billion dollars of public and private investment has been made downtown since 1996. WOW was voted America’s Best Aquarium and Best New Attraction by USA Today readers. Since opening in September 2017, the estimated $300 million private investment has resulted in significantly increased hotel nights and generated hundreds of thousands of visitors. These two destinations generate a tremendous amount of economic activity and are authentic Springfield experiences for both residents and visitors. This project will also alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety and accessibility and reduce environmental concerns – all issues important to our organization.

According to conceptual plans, the intersection of Grant Avenue and Portland street would transform into a round-a-bout. Springfield woman Dana Bridges lives near the intersection. She said the fast-paced traffic has her worried about the safety of her two children.

"There's a lot of wrecks out this way," she said. "We always hear it kind of late at night and kind of all hours of the day."

Bridges said she thinks the round-a-bout could fix that problem.

"I think it will slow cars down, especially just in those moments where people aren't really paying attention enough to know that the light is red or that it's changing," she said. "I think it'll definitely help in those kind of situations."

The city’s public works and Planning Departments convened a multi-departmental, multi-agency team to prepare the grant proposal. The city is required to provide a 20% match, roughly $5 million.

A city spokesperson tells KY3 that portion will likely come from a combination of the 1/4 cent capital improvements tax and the 1/8 cent transportation tax, both of which were recently renewed.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.