The City of Springfield was recently given a $1.5 billion federal grant. A portion of the grant will be used by the city to renovate parts of Grant Avenue, both on and off the road.
Announced on Oct. 6, the plan will use $21 million of the grant to connect Springfield’s economic centers alongside Sunshine Street to a proposed Center City Loop around the Missouri State University’s IDEA Commons.
IDEA Commons, standing for innovation, design, entrepreneurship and the arts, houses Brick City, the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center and the Jordan Valley Innovation Center.
It also brings together the university and the greater Springfield area. The MSU website describes the 88-acre downtown area as “a downtown community where people from all walks of life can live, shop, learn, create and work.”
Professional Transportation Engineer Leree Reese, main contact for the project, said the grant still has to be voted on to be used by Springfield City Council and finalized by the Missouri Department of Transportation.
The project, while providing utilities for pedestrians on the sidewalk, will benefit commuters, infrastructure and the environment.
“The project includes advisory bike lanes, a roundabout, two raised intersections, three protected intersections, a grade-separated crossing at Fassnight Creek, bridge enhancement, utility upgrades, fiber connectivity, additional crossing and signal timing improvements, outdoor incubator and creek daylighting,” according to the Project Overview.
The City of Springfield has Reese’s Project Overview in full, but three main anchors have been decided for the connection.
The first is Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, as well as the Bass Pro Shops located next door. Stretching down Grant Avenue, the city plans to renovate neighborhoods to form the middle anchor. The third anchor will be downtown Springfield, as well as IDEA Commons.
A proposed “outdoor incubator” will be built for commuters and students to mingle together.
The renovations will connect MSU’s main campus, Drury University, Evangel University, Ozarks Technical Community College, one high school and two elementary schools together via a biking and walking pathway, according to the project overview by Reese.
The connecting pathway will have free Wi-Fi for those using it.
In a public letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Sen. Roy Blunt said the project was helpful for the economy, as the connections to downtown and other areas will help develop the city and bring in more tourists.
“The investments we make in our infrastructure directly benefit jobs and the local economy,” Blunt said in a news release. “By connecting Springfield’s parks, museums and other cultural destinations to the city’s growing downtown district, this project will spur economic development and boost the tourism industry.”
The estimated final cost will be approximately $26 million with a majority covered by the grant. Springfield City Utilities will provide one million dollars, with the Springfield City Council providing the remaining $4 million. The City of Springfield has the ability to set aside $57,000 annually for maintenance on the project.
The project’s completion is planned for 2024. Planning details and concept art for the project could also change, according to Springfield Director of Public Information and Civic Engagement Cora Scott.