Route 66 in the News

Reshaping Route 66

2012-01-18 18:11:42

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The City of Springfield is looking for input in the reconstruction of the College Street Corridor.

The Department of Planning and Development initiated a project to create a new future for the area between Grant Avenue and Kansas Expressway, which is commonly known as the West Central Neighborhood.

The project is relying heavily on community input, and Wednesday night saw the first of a seven public engagement meetings. The plan is to improve the physical condition of the area while building investor confidence, putting a new face on Route 66.

"I think an area especially like this is gonna have a lot of varying ideas of how to redevelop it," says Vern Morgan, the principal planner.

The plan is to improve the physical conditions of the area while building investor confidence. The boundaries would be along College, Olive and Walnut Streets -- which run east and west, and bounded by Grant Avenue on the east and Kansas Expressway on the west.

"Very historical area," adds Morgan. "It's very important to the settlement and development of Springfield, and of course it was Route 66."

The public meetings are designed to identify the infrastructure needs and what challenges planners will face during the process.

"It combines a great history with a promising future, but it needs planning and vision to take a blight of the area and take it into the 21st Century," says Rusty Worley, president of West Central Neighborhood Alliance.

The corridor does have problem areas. Almost 60 percent of the 46 acres of land is in need of full rehabilitation, including sewer lines and storm water drains.

"Really you could boil that down to neglect," says Morgan. "The area has suffered from the public facility and infrastructure and to private property and the two are intertwined."

However, the neglect doesn't overshadow the history of the corridor.

"You see what it once was with thousands of cars passing by with Route 66, but you really want to see that brought forward into the modern age," adds Worley.

The meetings are held at the Community Room of Butler Rosenbury and Partners at 319 N. Main from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

The City plans to continue with public meetings in the same location every two weeks after tonight's initial meeting, until April 11.

You can also visit a special web page being set up by the city to take part in an electronic forum and see reports, meeting notes and other information related to the project.

Because of the area's proximity to the West Meadows revitalization area, and its role in the city's history, city planners want to focus on improving the neighborhood. Those improvements are expected to be done by the end of this summer, according to a news release from the city.

~April Hansen,


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