December 12, 2005--Posted at 6:00 p.m. CDT
POPLAR BLUFF, MO-- A simple turning over of a shovel symbolizes the beginning of a huge project. It was a ground breaking event to double your experience on Highway 67.
"The significance of the event is we have begun shortly after passing Amendment 3 and our local sales tax here in Poplar Bluff to do 50 miles of 67 to have it connected as 4 lane," said Kevin Keith, Chief Engineer for Missouri Department of Transportation.
Monday's ground breaking ceremony was for the first four miles of highway just north of Poplar Bluff but eventually this 50 mile project will extend all the way to Cherokee Pass and should be completed by 2012.
"Vision from the citizens of Poplar Bluff to pass a tax to deliver 50 miles or roadway that aren't even in their city limits," said Mark Shelton, District Engineer for MODOT.
The 180 million dollar project is partially funded by sales tax implemented by the citizens of Poplar Bluff. A tax that should pay off in the long run.
"I think there is a clear link between transportation and economic development," said Shelton.
"We have done some research and the data shows you get increased economic development folks will get jobs in your community if you are connected by a 4 lane highway," said Keith.
However economic growth isn't the only benefit to having a wider highway.
"Around the state the accident rate is half on a 4 lane highway as opposed to a 2 lane highway," said Keith.
The project is just the first step to establishing a corridor from Missouri to Arkansas.
"Very soon 60 will be done and we'll have 67 done if you are coming down from St. Louis to Poplar Bluff and then our next priority will be to work with Arkansas about getting that road built south," said Keith.