Key decision makers converged in Ozark to discuss the needs and the future of the U.S. Highway 65 corridor.
Missouri Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, was on hand for a meeting at the Finley restaurant that included Missouri Department of Transportation officials and stakeholders from Ozark.
“Christian County is one of the fastest growing regions in the state. Today was a great opportunity to share that growth with MoDOT and plan how we can partner together to capitalize and encourage future growth through new infrastructure and innovative planning,” Haahr said.
Attendees included MoDOT Director of Government Relations Ed Hassinger, MoDOT Southwest District Engineer Steve Campbell, Ozark Mayor Rick Gardner, Ozark City Administrator Steve Childers, Ozark Director of Public Works Jeremy Parsons, Ozarks Transportation Organization director Sara Fields, Ozark Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Chuck Branch, David Christianson of Cochran Engineering, MoDOT Deputy Director and Chief Engineer Jay Wunderlich, and Joelle Cannon, district office director for U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri.
In the meeting, the group discussed plans for future U.S. Highway 65 projects, such as the possibility of adding a highway interchange between State Route CC and Missouri Highway 14.
“The future of economic development and maintaining a quality of life asset for our citizens depends on how well we can manage our transportation system,” Childers said. “We know that more growth means more traffic, so we are proactively planning, identifying funding options, and meeting with key transportation officials to help us achieve our goals for the future.”
The group also discussed the possibility of connecting downtown Ozark, most notably the Bass Pro Shops’ Finley Farms Project, with the trail system at Lake Springfield and/or Galloway Creek in Greene County.
In May, a steering committee for what’s being called the Chadwick Flyer Regional Trailwas formed to look into the feasibility of a trails system from Ozark to Galloway Village. Parsons heads the steering committee along with Mary Kromrey, executive director of Ozark Greenways. The steering committee includes representatives from Springfield, Christian County, the city of Ozark, the Ozark R-VI School District, and Finley Farms.
"The city of Ozark sees the Chadwick Flyer Regional Trail as a regional planning opportunity,” Parsons said. “The trail will provide connectivity to more than just some of the fastest growing communities in the Missouri. It will connect people to nature, areas of cultural significance, historically significant properties, neighborhoods, and unique commercial destinations, all while providing a healthy and viable alternative form of transportation for citizens throughout Christian and Greene counties.”
Ozark Mayor Rick Gardner said he was pleased with openness of the discussions, and looks forward to future talks on Ozark’s transportation needs and trail plans with MoDOT.
“What an amazing meeting we had with members from MoDOT, Speaker Elijah Haahr, and Joelle Cannon from Sen. Blunt’s office, discussing Ozark’s transportation needs and economic development opportunities,” Gardner said. “Cooperation is the key to accomplishing great things.”