Good Roads Are an Important Part of Economic Development

December 3, 2013 6:00 am

You’re on the interstate, approaching a city, and you begin to see restaurants, gas Highways 1stations, shops, and other interesting places where you might want to spend a little cash. But, a mile goes by with no exits and soon those places are in your rearview mirror and any thoughts of stopping have passed by to other exits or towns ahead. Sometimes a city will miss opportunities to invite travelers into their town by not having convenient roads and opportune exit ramps from the highways. These are missed economic opportunities– revenue lost to the local merchants.

Improved transportation routes spur economic growth. St. Joseph is embarking on a project that will offer a new entrance into the city off U.S. Highway 36 and promote economic development. No longer will Riverside Road be the first entrance into the city from the east. A new diamond interchange, just one mile before Riverside Road, will offer visitors better access to amenities and provide better access for business manufacturing transport.

St.   Joseph is fortunate to have such ample transportation routes surrounding it. Interstates 29 and 229 frame the city on the east and west sides while highways 71 and 59 provide alternate journeys north and south. Even the adjacent Missouri River has recently been designated as the“M-29” river highway between Kansas City to Sioux City, Iowa. Highway 36 is the main thoroughfare that cuts right through the city as an east-west route.

Nearly $4.9 million has been approved by the Missouri Department of Transportation for this project that will improve and compliment the economic development that is growing in that area. The new 150-acre campus of the Agri-BusinessExpoCenter is currently being developed just off Highway 36 on the eastern edge of town. Included in the ExpoCenter designs are economic development plans that will offer research and education facilities, an arena and an expo hall. Developers also plan to expand the area with other amenities for visitors including retail shops and a hotel.

While a cluster of hotels surround the Interstate 29/Frederick Avenue exit, Highway 36 through St. Joseph currently doesn’t offer a convenient place for visitors to quickly pull off the highway and spend the night on their travels between east and west destinations. Besides offering direct access to the new ExpoCenter, the economic development in the area will offer conveniences for nearby Missouri Western State University (MWSU) and HeartlandRegionalMedicalCenter. Those from out of town who are visiting loved ones in the hospital or visiting MWSU will have a place to stay and shop just down the road.

Opening another door to town from the highway welcomes economic growth to St. Joseph. The exit, which will extend to Pickett Road, may eventually run north to the MitchellWoodsBusinessPark, offering more opportunities for business supply chains. As businesses move east and homes may follow, the new diamond exit will relieve congestion on Riverside Road and offer a new gateway into our city.

 

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