BRANSON, Mo. The facelift to make the famous Branson strip more inviting is officially underway. Crews have broken ground on the Spirit of 76 Complete Streets project.
The brainstorming on how to give the strip a fresh new look began about five years ago with residents and business owners taking walking tours along Highway 76.
Branson city engineer David Miller says, "Everyone said it looked tired; something needed to be done to make it look more lively, and from that, it just kept evolving to the project we're working on now."
Now, crews are digging in, replacing old water lines, starting just across from Presley's Country Jubilee. "We've got some jack-hammering going on across the street, but that's ok. We're pretty fortunate. We only do evening shows," says Steve Presley, co-owner of Presley's Country Jubilee.
The first phase is a half-mile stretch reaching to Ripley's Believe it or Not. Soon, crews will install underground conduit to hold utility lines.
"When you go to other resort areas where the power lines and utility lines are underground, it looks so much better. So that's the big goal. And making it more pedestrian friendly is probably the second most important goal," says Miller.
Right now, construction is across the street, but at Presley's, the landscaping and walkways will eventually change. Plus, they've already raised their sign, complete with a new video board, so pedestrians will be able to walk underneath.
"76 is always pretty full of cars, so if we can have all those cars and more pedestrians, yes we're looking forward to that," says Presley.
For the Presleys, next year marks 50 years on the strip, and they're looking forward to the new inviting atmosphere for Branson visitors.
"Highway 76 is needing some updating, and this project is really going to bring it into the next generation, so we're very excited about that," Presley says.
The city hopes construction on the first half-mile stretch will be complete by May 2017. But the entire project along five miles of Highway 76, is expected to take five to eight years.