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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Ground Broken for College Street Revitalization Project

Ground has been broken for the Route 66 Plaza and Streetscape project on College Street.  An area from Broadway and College west to the Route 66 Roadside Park will see improvements over the next several months.

The approximately $1.1 million project will include a new pedestrian plaza, crosswalks, ADA-compliant sidewalks, landscaping, decorative street lighting, utility improvements and on-street parking.  Funds are being raised for a lighted clock tower for the area.

"Once it is in place it will serve as a welcoming beacon to visitors and a point of pride to neighbors and the business owners here on the Route 66 Route," said Kirk Juranas, assistant director of public works for the City of Springfield. 

He said the project is being funded by the federal transportation alternative program, grant funds and the city’s ¼-cent capital improvements sales tax.

Project manager Andrew Flippin, with the City of Springfield, said it will be a drastic change for the area.

"The intent is to beautify the neighborhood and allow, you know, businesses to prosper, the neighborhood to be proud of what we've done here on Route 66 and create an environment that brings people to the area," he said.

Perhaps no one is more excited about the changes that continue to the area around Route 66 in the city than Tommy Pike.  He’s a longtime advocate for Route 66 in Springfield as a destination.

"It was slow to take, but now then they're moving ahead pretty good, and it's nice to see something like this--a little plaza here and the clock tower and everything taking off," he said.

Kathleen Cowens, president of the West-Central Neighborhood Alliance, which has been instrumental in the Route 66 projects, hopes the improvements will result in more businesses moving into the area and a better neighborhood for residents.

"We wish to see neighbors spending time together here in the plaza and also in the park down the road and to see replicas and elements of Americana incorporated into the roadside park," she said.

Construction will begin in October, and the project is expected to be finished by April.

Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens said the groundbreaking was the perfect way to kick off the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival August 12-14 in downtown.