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Bridge badly needed for pedestrians crossing Interstate 44, Clark says
Bridge badly needed for pedestrians crossing Interstate 44, Clark says

St. Robert City Administrator Alan Clark speaks to Chamber of Commerce members.
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (Feb. 11, 2010) — Interstate 44 and the business area around Wal-Mart have long been the economic engine of St. Robert, but City Administrator Alan Clark warned at Wednesday’s meeting of the Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce that pedestrians crossing I-44 have become a major potential risk.

“It’s like trying to dodge rabbits out there,” Clark said, warning that numerous military personnel are running across I-44 rather than walking across the Missouri Avenue overpass. However, even the Missouri Avenue overpass has no sidewalks for pedestrians.

“We don’t want anybody getting killed,” Clark said, noting a servicemember was most recently killed about four years ago.

“One injury or fatality is way too much,” Clark said.

Clark said the city is in the final stages of property acquisition to allow construction of a pedestrian bridge across the interstate which may include a bicycle path.

“My big concern is doing a design which is economically feasible for the city but also safe,” Clark said. “I’ve got personal issues with this thing having an open ceiling-type area that things could be pitched out and wind up on somebody’s vehicle on the interstate. I would like to see a fully enclosed facility.”

Clark said after the chamber of commerce meeting that he knows from personal experience that the people running across the interstate are often military personnel, not civilians, and said he’s tried to stop servicemembers from runs that could end their lives.

“We’ve got a vast majority of people on the weekends who are military personnel, especially the younger soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines, who are utilizing the commercial businesses and they’ve got to get across the interstate,” Clark said. “The only way they’re doing that in a large number of instances is by foot. We do not need a pedestrian getting killed on the interstate again, for the lack of having a pedestrian crossing.”

Clark said he had learned that day that some additional financing options may be available, but in the meantime he’s trying to stop people from running across the interstate when he sees them.

Just last weekend, he saw a group of a half-dozen Marines wearing Marine Corps apparel and offered to help.

“My first response was when they were attempting to get across the interstate after dark, I pulled over and told them to get their butts in the back of my truck or to get back over on the other side of the interstate because there were about six of them that were making a beeline to get across the interstate,” Clark said. “The Marines did not get in the back of my truck, even though I identified myself as a retired Marine gunnery sergeant. They came back over on this side and I’d like to hope that they got a cab … this is getting unacceptable for people trying to cross that interstate, especially after dark.”

“That’s just not using good common sense but unfortunately we don’t have a way for anybody to get across the interstate without having that pedestrian overpass that we’re talking about constructing,” Clark said.

While many communities in Missouri are hurting due to the national economic downturn, Clark said that’s not been an issue for St. Robert which continues to experience dramatic growth despite the downturn elsewhere.

“We finished the year with revenue from sales tax receipts up 9 percent, and that wound up being 3 percent higher than 2008. Moneywise that equates to a little over $18 million we were up last year compared to 2008,” Clark told the audience at the chamber of commerce meeting.

Other upcoming improvements for the city include a new 14,100-square foot public works building replacing the existing “Shasta” building on Foxworth behind Dairy Queen, which Clark called a “rathole they’ve been working in.”

Clark said the city is also moving toward an online bill payment program for utilities, taxes and court fines, which he said will be especially important to military personnel.

“We are hopeful to bring that online next month,” Clark said. “Especially with Fort Leonard Wood being here there are a lot of folks who’ve got to go TAD in the Marine Corps, TDY in the Army, in and out, and that helps them out.”

Progress is also being made on the final contract documents for the planned St. Robert city pool, Clark said.

Two upcoming event include a March 27 Easter egg hunt at city hall and a March 13 outdoor sportsmen’s show, which will have 26 vendors including all the local auto dealerships and many area taxidermists, resorts, outdoor artists, and others serving a fishing and hunting clientele.

“I actually had to turn some people away because we just didn’t have the space. We had a lot of resorts from up at Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock and the Stockton area who wanted to come in,” Clark said. “Hopefully it’s going to be a big hit.”

The sportsman’s show will be free to the public, Clark said. A remodeling show and book show may be held in the future in St. Robert as well.

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