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Old 08-17-2002, 06:45 PM   #1
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New Construction

Can anyone who lives there close to Branson tell me what is being built in the area west of HWY 65 across from shopping area that includes Lowes Home Improvement. When we first saw it a few months back it looked like just road construction. But last week we passed and there is a large building being put up in that location. NEW STORE? NEW THEATRE? ?????????

If somebody knows what it is please let us know. Curiosity is getting the best of us.
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Old 08-18-2002, 07:41 PM   #2
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The buildings you see going up are at College of the Ozarks, one will be a motel and the other the restaurant which will move from its other locations, the only reason I know is we ate at the Friendship House the other night and I asked the waitress
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Old 08-18-2002, 07:58 PM   #3
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Smile Thank You Citygal

Thanks for the information about the new construction. Curiosity sometimes gets the best of us and we need to know whats going on. THANKS AGAIN

I do appreciate those who can give REAL firsthand info on the forum.
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Old 08-19-2002, 09:49 AM   #4
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Here is some road construction news

This is in today's Springfield New-leader.

Aug. 19, 2002
Branson looks to ease traffic crunch
The city’s ballyhooed road congestion is the focus of a variety of projects.

By Kathryn Buckstaff

Branson — In Branson, fun is encouraged. In fact, it’s a billion-dollar business.

But the topic of traffic congestion is no laughing matter.

“It’s one of those things we can’t even joke about,” said Claudia Vecchio, spokeswoman for the Branson-Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.

The problem started in the early 1990s when a story on CBS’ “60 Minutes” brought the town national attention. In 1989, about 3.8 million visitors came. Within three years, that number jumped by 1.5 million to 5.3 million. Drivers on Missouri 76 sometimes found themselves trapped in gridlock. The least lucky were stuck behind motor coaches.

That year, voters approved a half-cent sales tax dedicated to roads. Since 1992, the city has collected $33 million from the transportation tax.

Over the past 10 years, the city has spent $40 million on new streets and improvements to ease the traffic flow. This year, Branson expects about 7 million visitors.

Currently, four major projects are in the plans with one already under way. Over the next two years, the city will add turn lanes at several intersections and straighten and widen a street with a severe curve. The city also will build two street extensions that will provide new north-south arteries. Those streets will play a significant role as Branson’s north side continues to develop.

Along with its reputation as an entertainment mecca, Branson also gained infamy for its traffic problems during those early years. The image still haunts.

“It’s still an issue,” Vecchio said. “People call and ask if the traffic is still as bad as it once was. And any time we’re out in the public, there are still perceptions brought up about Branson’s traffic.”

When people come to town, they can see that the city’s congestion relief program is working, Vecchio said.

“But a perception issue takes time to get past,” Vecchio said. “We remind the entire community when they’re out there talking about Branson that traffic is an issue. The message needs to be that Branson has continued to spend the money to improve the roads. And it’s not just a spin. It’s actual improvement.”

Still, there are bottlenecks and times of day when traffic slows, especially around 5 p.m. when visitors all head out to dinner.

The first time Ron and Mary Neumeier of Cabot, Ark., came to Branson in the early ’90s, “it was bumper-to-bumper and terribly bad,” said Ron Neumeier, who is retired from the Kroger Co. “Yesterday, the main drag was just as bad as ever, stop and go, stop and go.”

“We try to stay away from it because we’ve learned some of the back roads,” Mary Neumeier said.

On the other hand, Clarence Lazure has been visiting here for about five years from Naples, Fla., so he has a different perception.

“Traffic’s not bad here,” he said. “I don’t mind it. If you go to pull out of a restaurant or your hotel, within two or three cars, someone lets you in. You don’t want to be in a hurry on (Missouri) 76, but it’s not like in New York where they’ll blow their horns at you.”

Over the past five years, the city has worked from a master plan for traffic development, said City Administrator Terry Dody. Currently there is $10.8 million in the capital improvements budget for road work, and Dody said he has proposed to the Branson Board of Aldermen that $3.2 million be added for the 2003 budget.

The city also is prepared to fund road work to accommodate a proposed convention center and the redevelopment of the downtown lakefront, Dody said.

Road engineers in Branson sometimes face unusual challenges, said city engineer David Miller.

The Hairpin Project

In the project under way now to straighten a hairpin turn on Roark Valley Road, the city opted to build a 10-foot diameter box culvert under a bridge. The narrow bridge would have been too costly to widen, so when the road is straightened on both sides of the bridge, the top of the bridge will be torn off and the culvert beneath will be topped with the new road, Miller said.

Contractor D and E Plumbing of Nixa — which also specializes in road work — also will build a box culvert in the valley where the hairpin turn now causes traffic to slow to a crawl.

They city will then coordinate signals on Roark Valley Road at Gretna Road and Shepherd of the Hills Expressway to try to prevent traffic from backing up between signals.

“It’s going to be tricky, but we’ll make it better,” Miller said.

The project should be finished before winter, he said.

Epps extension

On Thursday, the Branson Board of Aldermen approved one of five options for the extension of James Epps Road south from Roark Valley Road to Missouri 76. The first obstacle is a cliff that will require a 60-foot-deep rock cut, Miller said.

Initially, the city considered a tunnel.

“Surprising as it sounds, highway consultants found that our rock isn’t hard enough,” Miller said. “If it had been harder, a tunnel could have made financial sense.”

But because it would have required a concrete liner, the cost of the 1,100-foot-long tunnel alone was estimated at $20 million. Estimated total cost of the project selected by the city is $6.6 million.

The two-lane road extension will be aligned with Fall Creek Road at Missouri 76, providing an important north-south artery. The project should begin early next year and take about a year to complete, Miller said.

U.S. 65 interchange

One way local drivers gauge traffic congestion is by checking out how far cars are backed up onto U.S. 65 at the Missouri 76 exits. In the U.S. 65 interchange project, turn lanes will be added at Missouri 76 and Roark Valley Road and the northbound and southbound exit ramps.

The heavy concentration of businesses fronting 76 in that area precludes substantially widening the street, but adding the turn lanes and improved signage should help, Miller said.

Adding a second left-turn lane for drivers turning off Roark Valley Road onto 76 near Burger King may not seem at first glance like a big help. But if vehicles turning left get through the intersection faster, it will allow more green-light time for the drivers on 76, Miller said.

In this project and two others, the city will save several million dollars by a cost-sharing arrangement with the Missouri Department of Transportation. Because the intersections with 76 are on state right-of-way, MoDOT agreed to pay half the cost of the intersection work. The city will initially pay the entire cost of the project. MoDOT will reimburse half the cost on a set schedule to be completed within five years, Miller said.

Forsythe Street Hill

The final project also is challenging: how to reroute Forsythe Street so it no longer mimics the steep hills of San Francisco. The city also plans to realign the street with Green Mountain Drive west of the Branson Mall, providing another north-south artery.

The valley that the street climbs is so steep that it would take $2 million worth of rock to fill it, Miller said. Right now, costs vary from $4 to $7 million to complete the project. For now, the project has been tabled by the Board of Aldermen.

“The variations depend on how flat you made the slopes, and the question is, ‘Have we really done a whole lot better and is it worth $7 million to make it a much gentler slope?’” Miller said.

Overall, Branson has “a wonderful traffic problem,” Dody said.

“People make a big deal about it, but the reason we have traffic problems is because we’re doing so darn well here.”
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