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Our Opinion: Mission will pave way for development

Our Opinion: Mission will pave way for development

July 20th, 2011 in News

Community leaders are on a mission.

Construction of Mission Drive will include: new infrastructure, specifically an interchange at Missouri 179; development, starting with a new St. Mary's Health Center; and job creation.

During a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, the St. Mary's project was characterized as "a $200 million development that will brings jobs to our area - not only construction jobs, but also health care jobs." That assessment was made by Kirk Juranus, the Central District engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).

Construction of the diamond interchange and Mission Drive will cost $7.445 million and will be done by Emory Sapp Construction Co., Columbia.

Funding was secured through MoDOT's economic development funds by the Highway 179 Economic Development Corp., a coalition of the state, Cole County and Jefferson City. The combined cost for the county and city is about $1.62 million.

The project is expected to take about a year and will involve closing the portion of Missouri 179 between Edgewood Drive and Route C for about 70 days, beginning in mid-August.

The closure will cause some inconvenience for motorists, but the short-term pain is a necessary component of the long-term gain.

Officials attending the ceremony referred to the project as:

• "... a great boost for economic development." State Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City.

• "... a place to grow, and some breathing room." Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce President Randy Allen.

• " ... letting us break from our past, and into new possibilities." Jefferson City Mayor Eric Struemph.

Community excitement and enthusiasm are not misplaced. The Missouri 179 project will open a new corridor for employment, development and progress in Central Missouri.