Transportation infrastructure and economic development often work together like yin and yang. Sometimes, one spurs the other and other times it’s vice versa. Sometimes, the impact is immediate and other times there’s a lag or such an indirect effect the connection is hardly noticeable.
With the business of transportation infrastructure in mind as I’m behind my steering wheel, my car shifts into gear and I come upon a roundabout in the making. I’m at South Glenstone Avenue and East Republic Road.
Missouri Department of Transportation crews this summer began the work in southeast Springfield, just south of the James River Freeway overpass. Roundabouts are not new to Springfield. But this roundabout design is unique for a couple of reasons. First, it’s likely to see the most traffic of the handful of roundabouts in the city. Second, it will reconfigure the eastbound ramp onto the freeway so that vehicles traveling east on Republic Road will access U.S. Route 60 East by first circling the roundabout. It’s almost counterintuitive in that drivers will be sent back the direction they came from (west) only to sharply curve back to the east to hop on the freeway. MoDOT has created a computer animation of the traffic patterns that’s worth a view on YouTube (search U.S. Route 60/Glenstone Avenue). Specifically, it’ll consolidate the Glenstone and Republic ramps to eastbound 60 at Harvard Avenue.
If you’ve ever tried to make a left turn coming out of the Nature Center or leaving Hilton Garden Inn, you’ll be relieved by this change. It’s a $22 million overhaul – including the James River Freeway widening and resurfacing contract that went to Hartman & Co. Inc. – and should be ready to navigate by May 2022, according to MoDOT officials.
I welcome the roundabouts in strategic places around the city. The short-lived proposal to add one in the Rountree neighborhood, at Cherry Street and Pickwick Avenue, was a good idea. Economic development had increased the volume of traffic, residents and roaming pedestrians on the street. But I understand the physical constraints that shot it down.
There is a roundabout planned in the Grant Avenue Parkway project. Another place to look for similar development reasons is Galloway Village. A smaller-scale roundabout seems valid on South Lone Pine Avenue, either at Galloway Street or farther south at Republic Street, and would fit the neighborhood aesthetic and vibe with cyclists and runners streaming along the greenway trail.
According to a roundabout database tracked by Kittleson & Associates Inc., there are at least 7,000 roundabouts in the United States – and that includes those termed traffic calming circles, rotaries and other descriptive names. MoDOT officials have 351 roundabouts on record in Missouri.
I’ve seen roundabouts effective in the Kansas City area, where new retail developments are directly adjacent to dense neighborhoods. They serve as a safety buffer in transit between residential and commercial zoning.
Roundabouts have been used for ages in Europe – mostly for function, but there’s also an aesthetic aspect. The center of the circles just beg for a historical or artistic sculpture.
Come to think of it, the arts and economic development go hand in hand, too. Seems we’ve come full circle.
Springfield Business Journal Editorial Vice President Eric Olson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raleigh, North Carolina-based Advance Auto Parts opened its first store in Springfield; Natural Grocers made its Springfield debut; and a business owner with experience in the insurance, financial planning and digital marketing fields entered the restaurant industry.
Marc Thornsberry, a Senior Engineer at CJW, says he joined the company after working in the public sphere. He says CJW had a ton of experience working with the community, and putting their customer's and clients.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares helpful advice and cautionary tips about the importance of tracking cash flow for new or established businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Michael Smith and Chris Sawyer, COO and CEO of Next Level Solutions respectively, discuss how they keep their remote teams and offices in and out of country on the same page. Next Level Solutions was ranked #1 in the Springfield Business Journal's 2021 Dynamic Dozen.
John Oke-Thomas, architect and co-founder of minorities in business, responds to the accusation that minority businesses are only successful because of the priority they have received in lending. He says that if a business uses a loan well, it shows their worth.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares tips for entrepreneurs who are ready to seek funding. Some of her tips apply broadly; some target technology industry businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and startups, and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Hollie Elliott discusses common misconceptions about locating your business in a small town. She says that there are a lot of benefits that people may not consider.
Drawing on his own experience dynamically evolving his company and business model, Jim Meinsen discusses when and how you might need to draw on new technology. Jim and Debbie Meinsen are co-owners of TCI Graphics in Springfield.
John Oke-Thomas, longtime Springfield architect, discusses his philosophy on architecture. He says that future historians will be focused on the sustainability of our contemporary architecture.
Erin Hedlun, director of marketing and communications at Evangel University, says compassion is an important job skill. Hedlun says it is a component of what makes a leader.
Rachel Barks, owner of Artistree Pottery, talks about the concepting that went behind the aesthetic of the business.