SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Proposed improvements to Sunshine Street have businesses in the area heated.
MoDOT is suggesting medians along part of sections of the road for safety. But some companies say the medians will hurt sales.
“This probably is a deathblow to many of the local businesses on Sunshine Street,” State Bank President Tom Fowler said. “Medians are not good for business, and in my judgment, our experience here is most of the accidents that have happened have happened at the stoplight which the median wouldn’t help.”
Fowler said roughly 80 businesses are against the measure to add medians. There are also seven state representatives and three county commissioners that signed letters voicing their oppositions.
“Sunshine Street is the premier retail location here because it does not have medians,” Fowler said. “We have center lanes all up and down Sunshine Street which serve a very big purpose. Lots of people use our center lanes and I think it’s serving the purpose it’s intended to do.”
At Monday night’s meeting, city council voted on a resolution to pull back – at least for now – on the medians.
“In nearly an $11 million project, the median Access management is only about one percent of the project cost involved in this,” MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said. “We don’t have an intention to try to interfere with the commercial interests of the city of Springfield. But we are very concerned about the safety of the corridor itself and to bring it to a resolution.”
Between 2016 and 2020, there were 728 crashes on Sunshine St between Glenstone and Farm Road 199 resulting in fives deaths and 13 disabling injuries.
“If you use the take off on what the economic impact of those crashes are from standard Federal Highway Administration data, the cost well exceeds $100 million there,” McKenna said.
Fowler said State Bank supports the portion of the project that resurfaces the road, updates sidewalks, and improves intersections.
“We value every life and we don’t want anybody to have an accident. But at the same time, you have to balance the economics,” Fowler said. “We want to keep sunshine a viable option for people to do business.”
McKenna said at Monday’s night meeting crews will try to hold off on the Sunshine St Corridor Project until they can come to a reasonable solution.