Missouri S&T And Rolla Plan New Campus Entrance, Aim To Spur Development
ROLLA — Missouri University of Science and Technology and the City of Rolla are moving forward with a master plan that includes rerouting a major road near Interstate 44.
The proposal includes shifting University Drive a block south of where it currently dead ends at US Highway 63. The new route, just south of I-44 will end in a roundabout and create a new front door to campus.
City officials predict the traffic plan will help the city’s two biggest employers: the university and Phelps Health.
“The new alignment of University Drive will support Phelps Health and Missouri S&T’s vision for providing direct access from Interstate 44 to their front doors,” said Rolla Mayor Lou Magdits during a recent virtual presentation.
The move is also expected to ease traffic by diverting vehicles away from the city’s other two interstate exits. Traffic studies showed many people headed to the Phelps Health Medical Center or Missouri S&T take exits other than University Drive, even though they are further away.
The realignment is projected to cost $32 million and take five years to complete. The city has already purchased 17 properties to make the realignment happen and is in talks with owners of the last parcel, which currently holds a Hardee's restaurant.
The project is part of an updated university master plan that includes new baseball, softball and soccer stadiums, numerous updates to academic buildings, and mixed use private development.
The master plan also includes an attempt to bring more high tech jobs to the region by building a research and business park adjacent to campus, just north of Interstate 44.
The mix of private companies and university-funded research is based on a similar project at Iowa State University.
Planners believe a location visible from the interstate is key to attract investment:
“That important activity needs to be showcased and really get a lot of visibility externally for both city and campus,” said John Burse, a principal architect with St. Louis-based Mackey Mitchell Associates.
A pedestrian bridge over the interstate connecting the future research and business park to the rest of campus is currently under construction.
The entire master plan is headed to the University of Missouri System Board of Curators for consideration.
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