The City of Springfield has been awarded a $21 million BUILD grant to create a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly corridor through the heart of the city connecting major neighborhoods and destinations. The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grant will be used to reconstruct approximately 3.3 miles of a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian path on Grant Avenue starting in Downtown Springfield and ending at Sunshine Street. The project will include bike lanes, transit connections, a roundabout, two raised intersections, three protected intersections, a grade-separated crossing at Fassnight Creek, bridge enhancement, utility upgrades, fiber connectivity, additional crossing and signal timing improvements, outdoor incubator, and creek daylighting.
Springfield Mayor Ken McClure said, “The City of Springfield is so excited about this transformational news! This grant will help the City take a giant step forward in carrying out the City Council priorities of Economic Vitality and Quality of Place. We are extremely grateful for the superb congressional support, which has made this grant a reality.”
Proposed project elements included a loop that will connect Springfield’s historic downtown (including the city’s heart, Park Central Square), the new $4 million City Utilities Transit Center, and Missouri State University’s IDEA Commons (a cutting-edge research and entrepreneurship center) with a new Outdoor Incubator space that will offer a place for the intermingling of the City’s business and educational resources. Raised intersections will help prioritize pedestrian and bicycle connections to the CU Transit Center and the City’s historic downtown commercial area.
The project’s proposers went on to list benefits of the Grant Avenue Connect Parkway including the increase in the economic competitiveness of the region by increasing access to employment opportunities, helping to revitalize neighborhoods and stimulate development, and by creating and preserving jobs. Currently, Springfield residents spend 26% of their income on transportation or about $8,540 per year on auto ownership alone. A continuous multi-use path that is integrated into the City’s existing transportation network will provide low-cost and reliable access to employment centers (97,170 existing jobs in the project study area), educational facilities (36 K-12 schools and 4 higher education institutions), everyday needs (healthcare, food, and shopping), and the nine City Utility transit routes that traverse the project alignment. The project will also help encourage local university students to remain in the area and attract other young, skilled workers. A growing body of evidence shows that businesses are locating in downtown districts that are accessible by foot, bike, and transit to meet the needs and demands of a younger workforce whose car-ownership rates have dropped compared to previous generations.