Trail Connecting MSSU to Northpark Mall Area Closer to Reality

Trail Connecting MSSU to Northpark Mall Area Closer to Reality
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FEMA rules regarding flood plains put a temporary halt to plans for a trail connecting Missouri Southern State University to Northpark mall. The project started in 2013. But the ball is rolling again.

Good news to MSSU junior Sam Kohrs who commutes to school on his bicycle. He’s excited to learn the trail tying the campus to the mall is a step closer to reality. He said, “I think that’d be awesome. It would be convenient. It would cut down on time and it would be a lot safer instead of riding your bike on Duquesne or Range Line, you can just hop on the trail and go right down there.”

The ten foot wide trail would begin behind Reynolds Hall next to the tennis courts, cross through MSSU property and come out on the Hollywood theater parking lot. It will include a pedestrian bridge planned over Turkey Creek. All the property sits in a flood plain. And that’s why FEMA got involved.
Nick Heatherly, Joplin’s public works director explained, “If you put something in the floodway and it does change the base flood elevation, you’re required to go through a process to modify the flood mapping. So we had to do a conditional letter of map revision or CLOMAR.”
FEMA has given initial approval to the revised flood plain mapping but property owners have a period of time to appeal it.
Once design work on the bridge is approved by MODOT which provided a grant for $270 thousand dollars of the $325 thousand dollar total project, construction can begin. MSSU will pay eighty thousand dollars for LED solar lighting for the trail.
Bob Harrington, the physical plant director said, “It will be well lighted. Security will monitor it. So it will be a very safe path for them to get to and from.”
And also safer than current routes students walk to the mall including Newman road, which has no sidewalks, and then along railroad tracks.
Students living on campus from India with no vehicles say it would give them a faster and better option.
Priyanka Melhotre, a freshman said, “You know it’s not easy. We have to take the trolley and go or you know walking on the road like that is not safe.”

And she said trolley stops make for a longer trip and limit the time the students can spend at the mall. She and a friend say they are used to walking on campus so the trail would be helpful.

It’s not just students who will benefit. Those who support special needs individuals who live nearby at Northpark apartments said the trail will be a good thing for them too.

Leighann Smotherman works with Easy Living Inc. for independent living support. She said, “I take up my weekends taking clients to work (at the mall) and um just to get out of the house. They want something to do and that would be a safe way to get them there. I have a client who walks the roads and it’s dangerous.”

Once designs are approved, bids will be sought and construction could begin as soon as next spring.