Springfield could use eminent domain to take land needed for road project

Published: Jun. 18, 2018 at 9:34 PM CDT
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Springfield wants to widen a road near Kickapoo High and may take some land to do it.

Primrose Street goes from three lanes to five lanes near by the high school's athletic field. Cars have to quickly merge around a corner before traffic bottlenecks. The plan is to widen the street all the way through to Campbell Avenue.

However the city says there's one land owner that is still holding out, effectively putting a halt to the project.

"The area continues to grow. The school continues to grow. The hospital system continues to grow. Everybody seems to know there's a traffic problem here and they want to see it relieved," says Andrew Flippin with Springfield Public Works Department.

Nearly 13,000 cars drive along Primrose every day.

"As we look at traffic in the area we're seeing it rise towards what Republic Road, west of National used to be like," says Flippin.

It's why Springfield has been working for nearly a decade to widen Primrose Street and relieve traffic tie-ups.

Flippin says, "This is the last phase of Primrose that we have to widen to five lanes from Campbell to Glenstone."

Those efforts have hit a road block.

"We've acquired all of the property except for one for this project," says Flippin.

The plot of land, on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Primrose Street, is in the middle of a custody battle. The city says they've tried negotiating with attorneys for the landowner. The landowner's attorneys tell us they're willing to work towards a solution but haven't heard back from Springfield in more than a month.

A special ordinance was brought to council to make the decision on how to move forward.

"Eminent domain," says Kristi Fullnecky.

Matthew Simpson says, "Eminent domain."

"Eminent domain," says Craig Hosmer.

Eminent domain; the right of a government to take private property for public use. Not everyone on council agreed to infringe on a person's property rights.

However, safety is the biggest concern for this area.

"It is for good public policy, good public safety issue," says Hosmer.

Flippin says, "You always have an issue with trying to get as much traffic through and making the area drivable yet also make it as safe as possible."

City council voted in favor of doing what it takes to keep the flow of traffic on Primrose Street moving, even if that means filing a lawsuit to obtain the final piece of property needed to move forward.

"There's pains and heartaches as cities go. But those are just things that any and every city that's ever continued to increase their population has had to deal with," says Flippin.