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The federal government is helping upgrade an intersection near Springfield Underground. It’s expected to leverage $28 million in private investments.

Springfield Underground and LeCompte Road
City of Springfield
City of Springfield
Springfield Underground and LeCompte Road are shown in a 2007 photograph.

The American Rescue Plan Act has already pumped almost $100 million into Springfield and Greene County. Recently the Economic Development Administration announced a new grant to help widen a key roadway leading to Springfield Underground, a major center of industrial activity with 3.5 million square feet of warehouse space.

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery law known as the American Rescue Plan is paying for a wide variety of local projects — from small business aid to hypersonic weapons manufacturing.

The latest grant from the Economic Development Administration is meant to fix up a tricky intersection near one of Springfield’s busiest economic hubs — Springfield Underground. It’s bringing much-needed upgrades to Division Street and Le Compte Road, says Jason Ray. He’s executive director of the Southwest Missouri Council of Governments.

“So widening Le Compte and enhancing the intersection at Division and Le Compte will allow for truck traffic to get in and out of the facility much better,” Ray says.

For years, Ray and his organization pushed for the federal money, which is being matched by $1.6 million in local funds. He says by turning Le Compte Road into a three-lane thoroughfare, operations at Springfield Underground will go more smoothly. He says two-thirds of Springfield Underground’s traffic goes through that intersection.

Ray says, “Right now it’s a really narrow road with very narrow, gravel shoulders and really tight turning there at the intersection, so we occasionally see trucks go off the road, which then shuts down the road while they deal with remedying that incident, and so it causes a real backlog and bottleneck for the Underground facility in itself.”

94 jobs, $28 million in new investments predicted

By making operations at Springfield Underground flow more efficiently, Ray and the Southwest Missouri Council of Governments say the road improvements are expected to create 94 jobs and generate $28 million in private investments.

Improving the road would also open the door to new development on dozens of acres of the surface above Springfield Underground. And that would generate new tax revenues to support public education and other public services.

“So I think that that is some huge economic potential that will be able to be captured because of this project as well. And it’s a huge benefit to Springfield Public Schools. It was just brought to my attention yesterday from one of our state legislators that the Underground facility is the only industrial park that’s located within Springfield Public Schools’ district," Ray says.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.