By: Christy Hendricks
CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, Mo. - Plans are underway for $510 million in economic stimulus projects in the state of Missouri.
Missouri Department of Transportation officials say that could create 14,000 jobs across the state.
One of those projects includes a $1 million proposal for a new rail line at the SEMO Port Authority from the Diversion Channel Bridge to Route AB. It would span about 1/2 a mile and raise the tracks six feet in an effort to prevent flood damage. The current tracks were under water twice this year, shutting down travel for at least a week.
"The wheels on the railroad car are about three feet tall and it was eat out to about three feet below just enough that the track was hanging in low spots," said Dan Overbey, executive director of the SEMO Port Authority.
He says it took 300 tons of rock and about $60,000 to repair 300 feet of track.
These pictures show the 300 tons of rock needed to fill in what the water washed away.
But a one million dollar plan to create new tracks would help reduce that problem.
"What we would like to do is raise the track and get it to where we're not susceptible to flooding," said Overbey. "Basically to help keep our railroad open and to serve our customers at the port also the cement plant.
That project and others like road resurfacing on Interstate 55 near the Arkansas border would provide a shot in the arm for Missouri's economy.
"With the two projects on the I-55 in Pemiscot and New Madrid (counties) and the $16 million we're looking at over in Wayne County on Highway 34 that's about $50 million worth of work that you'd be pumping into the economny probably about 1400 jobs would be started," said Mark Shelton, Chief Engineer for the Southeast District of MoDOT.
Another project slated to cost $3 million would overlay the runway and creating a new taxiway at the Sikeston airport to allow for larger airplanes.
"Here we are in southeast Missouri along the river. Why aren't we the transportation hub of the state and why aren't we using the river that multi-intermodal interlock is what we need to make some progress on river to rail to highway and run it through southeast Missouri," said Shelton. "Those are great projects for our area."
That's about $55 million in projects in southeast Missouri.
MoDOT chose projects that could be awarded within 180 days if an economic stimulus package is passed.
Overbey says the new rail line could be finished as early as the end of 2009 if something is passed early next year.
If the state doesn't get the federal money, then some of those projects will be but on the back burner, leaving departments to turn to other sources for money and drawing out completion to several years from now.
Below is a list of the Ready to Go project in southeast Missouri.
Cape Girardeau County, SEMO Port - Construct new rail line above flood region. $1 million
New Madrid County, New Madrid Port - Construct railroad extension and warehouse.$2 million
Pemiscot County, Route 55 - Pavement rehabilitation on northbound lanes from Arkansas state line to I-155. $11 million
Pemiscot/New Madrid Counties, Route 55 - Pavement rehabilitation on northbound and southbound lanes from I-155 to Scott County. $22 million
Scott County, Sikeston Memorial Municipal Airport - Overlay runway at Sikeston Airport.$3 million
Wayne County, Route 34 - Widen, build shoulders and straighten two locations between Route N and Piedmont. $16 million