Missouri Western State University is once again accessible from Mitchell Avenue.
For the entire summer there was only one way to access campus (McCarthy Drive) due to the road construction on Mitchell that extended from the Interstate 29 Bridge to 50th St.
Construction to improve Mitchell began shortly after last springâ€™s commencement ceremonies concluded and will continue for a large portion of this semester.
The main focus of the construction was to relieve the congestion of traffic along Mitchell during peak driving times. The Mitchell roadbed is in the process of being widened to accommodate the addition of a center left turn lane extending from Leonard Road to 50th Street.
In order to enjoy the conveniences of congestion-free traffic, there have to be temporary inconveniences paid first. For instance, Mitchell is currently only two lanes, which are narrower than before and campus is only accessible (from Mitchell) to motorists that are traveling from the west.
If a motorist is traveling from the east they will have to continue to take Faraon.
Another inconvenience to add to the list is the fact that there is only one entrance to campus from Mitchell and only two exits. The unbalanced number of entrances and exits is due to S.W. University Drive (formerly S. W. College drive) being converted into a right-in, right-out only intersection. Eastbound traffic is no longer allowed
to turn left onto campus at that point.
â€œWith only the one entrance (from Mitchell), its going to increase the time it takes students to get to campus,â€ Lonnie Johnson, Facilities Director, said. â€œItâ€™s going to be inconvenient.â€
The area of Mitchell that is still under construction (Downs Drive to 50th) is expected to be opened for traffic by the end of September. Although traffic will be allowed through at that time, construction will continue at the intersections. A permanent stoplight will be installed at S.E. University Drive (formerly S.E. College Drive), which will then line up with American Family Insuranceâ€™s main entrance. The work on the intersections could last until December.
The construction on Mitchell was virtually cost free for Western, considering American Family Insurance used tax increment financing to foot the bill for the work done between Leonard and 50th. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recognized the opportunity of the road closing as an ideal time to resurface the I-29 Bridge.
Western wasnâ€™t so lucky when it came to the resurfacing and concrete work that was done on campus, the school got to pay for all of that.
The construction crews that resurfaced some of the parking lots and driveways have completed the work that was slated for them this summer, but could very well be back next summer.
The work that has been completed is just a portion of what Johnson would like to have done, the hindrance, as with most construction projects, is money. With the constant increase in the price of oil, Western could not afford to complete the facelift this summer. The revamping is expected to be done little by little each year, as funds allow.
â€œWe did a sizeable portion, but we have a lot more to do,â€ said Johnson. The main focus of the resurfacing seemed to
be the higher-traveled roads and parking lot entrances, as well as the handicapped parking. The most noticeable resurfacing was done at the main entrance; the circle drive encompassing the fountain received a new coat of asphalt, as well as the handicapped parking lot between Eder Hall and Popplewell Hall.
Portionsortions of the circle drive in front of the Looney Complex and the handicapped spots behind it were also given a little more asphalt.