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Busy Springfield corridor could get $12M in improvements

More than $12 million in improvements have been recommended for the two-mile South Limestone Street corridor, including a mini-roundabout at the Grand Avenue intersection, wider sidewalks and more landscaping.

The proposal includes widening the street between South Limestone and John streets, as well as realigning the intersection at Spring Street and Selma Road.

Springfield leaders want the corridor to become the premier passageway into the city, according to a consultant’s report. The corridor sees about 20,000 cars per day.

RELATED: Springfield seeks to spur south side development

The Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee — which paid for the $119,000 study — will vote on the recommendations at 10:30 a.m. today at the Springview Government Center. No money has been secured for the projects yet but federal or state dollars will likely be sought.

The study creates a road map for five to 10 years in the future, TCC Director Scott Schmid said.

“It’s a long-range plan, but it gives us a good blueprint on how to move forward,” he said.

Earlier this year, the transportation committee hired a consulting firm to develop a plan for the stretch from Leffel Lane to Spring Street. The study identified problems and needs for the corridor, as well as a vision for a cost-effective plan for the future.

Consulting firm Burgess and Niple conducted the study and held several public meetings to gain feedback from residents. Schmid called the year-long study thorough.

PRIOR COVERAGE: Improvements sought for major gateway into Springfield

“We took a long process to go through it and we didn’t hold anything back,” Schmid said. “We took a look at a lot of different issues. I thought the consultant team did a really good job of organizing everything, all the different challenges, and put a good plan to move forward with.”

The $730,000 first phase of the project includes plans to reconfigure the intersection at Leffel Lane, which was submitted for a federal funding process.

The improvements at the intersection would include a double turn lane from Leffel Lane going south on to South Limestone Street, as well as add a right turn-only lane from South Limestone Street onto Leffel Lane.

“You back up real quick in the morning just trying to get into town because of all the people turning to go to Assurant or Clark State,” Schmid said.

The plan also calls for narrowing nearby driveways and modifying entryways at nearby businesses.

READ MORE: $3M sought for Springfield, I-70 traffic project

The intersection at South Limestone Street and Leffel Lane is currently ranked as the top safety location priority in the community, according to rankings by the Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee.

The intersection is in desperate need of being reconfigured, Southern Gateway Neighborhood Association President Brian Keith said.

“It gets crazy in the morning and after 5 p.m. when people are getting off of work,” Keith said.

It can also be difficult to leave the nearby gas stations, he said.

The $4.9 million second phase of the project includes reducing Limestone Street to three 11-foot wide lanes beginning north of John Street and ending at Miller Street.

It also includes constructing a mini-roundabout at the Grand Avenue intersection. Last February, the Springfield City Commission rejected a federally funded $679,000 roundabout at Bechtle Avenue and the St. Paris Connector — one of the busiest intersections in the city — after months of public outcry. The intersection at Grand Avenue and South Limestone Street currently has a traffic signal, which slows down traffic.

“(The roundabout) is a way to provide good flow through there, while giving people a way to turn left off of Grand Avenue,” Schmid said. “It’s important to have some sort of break there between John and Selma. Something there I think is appropriate, whether it’s leaving the signal where it is or doing something that helps improve flow a little bit like a small roundabout. Either one will work.”

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Roundabouts improve safety, but plan divides Springfield drivers

The $3.3 million third phase would widen Limestone Street from Leffel Lane to John Street to widen the lanes and reconstruct sidewalks to provide more buffer from the street. It would also make changes to the access points for businesses.

The $3.2 million fourth phase recommends eliminating the intersection at Spring Street/Selma Road and constructing a new connection from Limestone Street to Selma Road through Clark Street with a stop sign. The study says it would make the intersection safer and provide more traffic into downtown, but it’s not as critical as the other recommendations.

Many of the phases could be paid for using federal money for safety, air quality and bike and pedestrian improvements, Schmid said.

“It’ll take time to get everything funded and take time to design everything,” he said. “It will take time, but I think when you break it into chunks like that, it helps.”

After months of planning, Keith is ready to see the project get started in the coming years.

“Any change is good,” Keith said. “I’m a resident, so we’re always reluctant, but I think change is good. It’s good to see it all come to fruition.”

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