JOPLIN, MO.--- A tax has been in place since 2004 to improve a busy Joplin road, and the project is finally taking off. City officials had to wait 10 years to get the necessary funding to expand Maiden Lane, and now they should break ground within the next few months. Contractors are just waiting for the weather to warm up before they get started.
"The contractor is looking to get started when the weather breaks, when we get out of the winter weather here," said Dave Hunt, Joplin Traffic Engineer.
From 9th to 32nd Street, Maiden Lane is about to see some major changes.
"We're widening Maiden Lane to five lanes. We'll also be adding bike lanes on both sides and sidewalks on both sides, along with some storm water improvements," said Hunt.
It's been a project 10 years in the making. Joplin citizens voted in 2004 to make improvements to the busy street as part of the Capital Improvement Sales Tax. Now, it's time to get to work.
"Generally, in a situation like this, the construction would be at the end of the tax run," said Hunt.
After 10 years of collecting taxes, the city has the $3.8 million needed to move forward. Those who drive on the street most often say the expansion will improve the area.
"Any time you can widen the street and keep the flow of traffic better, it just, you know, you can't beat it. Especially, when you drive it every day like I do," said Rick Greninger, Maiden Lane Frequent Driver.
"It's going to make it easier to get around. It'll help quite a bit," said Jeremy Mathis, Maiden Lane Frequent Driver.
Some citizens are worried about road closures.
"The construction period's going to be rough, no doubt, we'll make it around it or through, somehow," said Greninger.
City officials say the street will be open during the entire process, only blocking off one lane at a time.
"We're going to have Maiden Lane open in its entirety. Construction will be going on at the same time and there will be intermittent road closures for side streets," said Hunt.
Officials say the addition of a bike lane and sidewalks is very important for a community that is relying on alternative modes of transportation more frequently. They also add the turn lane will make traffic flow more smoothly. The project is expected to be complete by the end of this year.