Interchange Ribbon Cutting Signals New Roads

Interchange Ribbon Cutting Signals New Roads
By: CJ Cassidy

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, Mo. - Most of us have to see something to believe it, but city and county leaders in Cape and Jackson say even if you don't see the big picture around a new interchange on I-55, it's going to be big.
Leaders from Cape County and both cities cut the ribbon on the new LaSalle Avenue Interchange Monday morning.
It connects East Main Street in Jackson to the interstate.
City leaders say we can expect to see new roads into Cape Girardeau in the next year to two years.  They also expect to see several developers coming in to build along those roads, and also in and around the new interchange.
"We started working on the project in the early 1970s.  So it has been big from that standpoint; it's taken a long time to get here," Jackson Mayor Barbara Lohr said.
In comparison, work on the road connecting the interchange to Route W taking you into Cape Girardeau isn't too far along just yet, but Cape Mayor Jay Knudtson says don't worry.
"The East Main connection is a big part of Jackson's growth.  They needed that to happen," he explained.
He says you'll see Cape's new LaSalle road come up in the next 8 to 12 months.
"We're in the final stages of right of way negotiations with land owners here and easements," Knudtson said.
The mayor also explains you can expect to see the proposed Lewis and Clark Parkway completed in the next two years.
That's set to run parallel to I-55, starting off of LaSalle Road, and ending up at Center Junction.
Knudtson says they're not behind schedule, they simply jumped on the project later in the game than Jackson city leaders did.
"The residential development basically occurred in the last two years, two and a half years ago. That rapid development caused us to really step up to the plate and get involved," he said.
Meanwhile, county leaders say they can't wait to see the progress themselves.
"The development company the university foundation hired had wonderful pictures of expansion companies like Wal-Mart, and Lowes.  Things like that but you never know," Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said.
No one would confirm the actual businesses that are likely to come in and set up shop, but researchers at Southeast Missouri State University say they plan on creating a technology village close to the interchange.  Both mayors say it'll all help attract more traffic into the area.
The LaSalle interchange is expected to open to the public in the next two to three weeks.