Joplin city officials to discuss sales tax renewal

Oct. 27—Joplin city officials in November are expected to put together a list of street and bridge projects that would be done during the next 10 years if voters next year renew the sales tax of three-eighths of a cent for capital projects.

There has not yet been a decision on what date would be selected for an election on the renewal question. Next year is a council election year. That election will take place in April.

The city manager, Nick Edwards, said that preparations for proposing the sales tax renewal are one of the city administration's priorities at this time.

City staff members have started the process of reviewing projects that would be possible for a list that would tell voters what the city would do with the sales tax proceeds.

Planning for the list and the election "is going to hit high gear soon," Edwards said. There will be discussion at a Nov. 13 council meeting about the tax renewal and the potential project list.

"It's hard to communicate to someone passing by (a location) the need behind some of these projects; why they're coming forward," Edwards said. "A lot of projects that we do help improve safety; they help improve economic development opportunities. They certainly address maintenance and long-term maintenance needs."

Some of the prioritized 14 projects that were on the list for the 2014 sales tax renewal have been completed and others are being finished.

The widening of 32nd Street to three lanes from Schifferdecker Avenue to Country Club Road is nearly complete at a cost of $5.9 million. Dan Johnson, public works director, said the last closure on the street is at Crane Road, but that one will reopen to through traffic Nov. 6. There is still some paving and striping to be done but the street will not be closed for that, he said. Liberty Electric Co. will install new street lights when those arrive.

Neighborhood improvements such as sidewalk replacement or installation and a program to renovate curbs in some areas for access by the disabled have been done each year over the 10-year cycle. That includes street surface and intersection repairs. Those were to be budgeted for $3.5 million a year.

City officials are preparing to start the last leg of the effort to widen Connecticut Avenue to five lanes from 32nd Street to 44th Street. It was budgeted at more than $8 million. A related project, widening 44th Street from Range Line Road to Connecticut Avenue, was completed earlier. Another leg of that project that has been completed was the widening of the Interstate 44 bridge on Connecticut Avenue to four lanes. That cost more than $5.3 million.

Still to be completed are projects to widen Zora Street east of Range Line Road at a cost of about $3.3 million.

Repair and modification of the parking garage at Sixth Street and Virginia Avenue is coming up and funding is part of the city's 2024 fiscal year budget, said Dan Johnson, director of public works.

Planning is underway to widen 20th Street to three lanes from Schifferdecker Avenue to Country Club Road in a cost-share project with Jasper County. That will eventually be connected with the planned West Bypass corridor that will be built in the future to connect Zora Street and the west side of Joplin to I-44.

Several bridges have been built as part of the current 10-year program. Those include replacement of the Shoal Creek low-water bridge on Jackson Avenue in a cost-share project with Newton County. The city paid more than $2.9 million for its share and Newton County paid $2 million.

The Turkey Creek bridge at Schifferdecker Avenue to connect it with Zora Street was completed at a cost of $2.1 million to the city and $1.5 million contributed by Jasper County and the Jasper County Road District.

City sales tax reports show that annual collections of the tax have increased from more than $14 million a year five years ago to more than $17 million the last three years.