Big changes on Broadway: $4.4M project begins April 9

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Ever heard of a construction project already ahead of schedule?

That may be a first, but that's exactly what's happening Monday, when local crews start a major, months-long overhaul of one of Cape Girardeau's busiest streets.

"We knew that this was a high profile project with the city, and that there's going to be a lot of people looking at it, so we thought the sooner we got started the better," said David McMullin, Vice President of Fronabarger Concreters out of Oak Ridge.

McMullin says he adjusted other project schedules so his crew can start on Broadway on April 9.

They'll begin with a two-block section from the riverfront to Spanish Street.

"Typically, we don't see construction starting this soon after the Council approves a contract," explained Cape Girardeau City Engineer Casey Brunke. "So, we are very excited they're going to get started next week actually and get this thing underway."

Downtown business owners

News of the quick start made its way up and down Broadway Friday afternoon.

Laurie Everett, owner of Annie Laurie's Antiques, will lose her sidewalk and street parking when the work reaches her block.

But, Everett tells me, she and her customers won't mind.

"My customers are very understanding and easy going," she said. "And I think that they won't have a problem parking on the side streets and they won't have a problem with it at all. I think they're all looking forward to the changes as well."

The $4.4 million Broadway Renovation Plan includes an expansion of the sidewalk on the north side of Broadway into a 15 foot pedestrian promenade.

That work will take out 64 existing parking spots.

The plan also includes amenities like benches and trees.

That work will begin across from Buckner Brewing Company on Monday.

"We're expecting great results," said Buckner's owner Cara Sprigg. "And, we've started making some changes here to coincide with those changes."

One of those projects, Sprigg says, is to turn Buckner's grain room at the corner of Broadway and Main Street into an outdoor patio.

"Oh I'm excited," Sprigg said. "I can't wait. I've lived in this town my whole life and just really excited to see these things happening."

City leaders and contractor

City leaders admittedly began scrambling when they learned of Fronabarger's new work schedule.

The Chamber of Commerce and Old Town Cape are working with city government to come up with a cohesive plan to help business owners along Broadway take advantage of the changes to come.

"It's a wonderful streetscape opportunity," said Tim Arbeiter, the Chamber's Vice President for Community Development. "It's going to be beautiful. There are businesses that are going to capitalize on it. And they should take advantage of this opportunity to put their business name out there even more. And, we're working to make sure those businesses are preparing for that."

In the meantime, David McMullin asks that everyone be patient with his crews as they work to bring improvements he says this region has never seen before.

"It's not any easier on our side as it is on theirs," McMullin said of customers and business owners inconvenienced by the work. "We have a tough timetable to meet. And hopefully, we'll be able to talk to these business owners and the patrons of their business ahead of time and inform them of what's coming that we can alleviate some of these frustrations."

Fronabarger has until November 5 to complete the roadwork, and until April 2013 to finish all the amenities.

The company faces substantial penalties if deadlines aren't met, and if any city block is closed for more than three weeks at a time.

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