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Parson vetoes Jefferson Avenue Footbridge, Renew Jordan Creek funding in budget

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The Jordan Creek daylighting project and Jefferson Avenue Footbridge rehabilitation may have to wait a bit longer before coming to fruition.

Prior to signing the roughly $48 billion fiscal 2023 state operating budget, Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday made a number of line-item vetoes. Among them locally were funding for the historic footbridge on Commercial Street and proposed financing for the daylighting of Jordan Creek downtown.

Parson removed $5 million in proposed federal stimulus funds to be used toward the footbridge project, according to an outline of cuts made by Parson in a letter to the Missouri secretary of state's office.

"This funding was not part of my budget recommendations," Parson wrote. "This project includes funding for a pedestrian footbridge over a rail line which the Missouri Department of Transportation is required to concur with the city on a big award. That has not yet occurred."

At the end of 2021, the city's Public Works Department released the results of a bidding process for the project. Two bids of $6.2 million and $6.4 million came in above estimates, as the engineering estimate on the historic structure was around $3 million, according to past reporting. MoDOT additionally disapproved of the bids.

The footbridge has been closed for more than half a decade due to safety concerns.

The rehab project calls for the repair and replacement of structural elements, wood decking and stairs, as well as the installation of two elevators, application of a new paint system and introduction of new lighting. Built in 1902, the 562-foot-long steel bridge crosses 13 tracks of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail yard between Commercial and Chase streets, according to past reporting.

Parson additionally cut $7.5 million in proposed federal stimulus funds for Springfield's Renew Jordan Creek project, according to the letter.

Renew Jordan Creek combines placemaking and new downtown amenities with flood mitigation and stormwater improvements to be achieved in part by daylighting the creek, or bringing it to the surface, according to past reporting.

The primary Renew Jordan Creek site is between Boonville and Main avenues from east to west, and between Mill and Water streets from north to south. Campbell Avenue intersects the site, and Missouri State University’s Brick City is on the northern edge.

Parson noted in the letter that while the project was not part of his budget recommendations, the city could seek funding from other state programs.

Mayor Ken McClure issued a statement to Springfield Business Journal in response to the budgetary moves.

"With regard to money vetoed for a couple of projects, we will be pursuing every available alternative," he said in the statement.

McClure was quick to point out in the statement that "many important Springfield projects will receive funding," but did not outline specific projects. He thanked local legislators and Parson for helping to secure the funds.

Reporting by the Springfield Daily Citizen pointed to $13.5 million for the Cooper Sports Complex, $10 million for the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and $6 million for the Springfield-Greene County Library District, among other projects.

In a news release about the budget, Parson cited $608 million in investments in drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and $356.5 million in broadband expansion projects, among other services.

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cangle@erlengroup.com

Can we stop the nonsense on this bridge yet? The cost per potential user makes no sense. This money could be used for something that our citizens will actually enjoy, like a Greenways trail. If it must be preserved, leave a pier on the Commercial Street side that gives a scenic overlook and has a commemorative plaque. "Here once stood a bridge purchased from a catalogue in 1902."

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