Sorry for another Capaha Park story, but I post ’em as I find ’em. We were cutting across from Normal coming back from the university (something that won’t be possible when the all of the new master plan goes into effect), when I spotted dirt being moved on the hill just east of the old swimming pool.
That’s when I remembered seeing a brief in The Missourian about a new pavilion being built there. The March 28, 2014, story mentioned that the ground was being cleared, that the new structure should arrive in April and be installed in May or June.
The buildings in the background are part of Southeast Hospital.
I checked out the middle section of Bloomfield Road yesterday. It’s a nice road if you don’t like trees. So, what can we do to save the last piece, the part from Benton Hill Road to Hwy 74? The answer is, probably not much.
A worker pointed out that the property across from what used to be Mount Tabor Park had been sold and the owners brought in the loggers to clear cut the land. Looks like the really nice trees are gone before the road crews got a crack at them.
Even where the trees weren’t cut en masse, trees of any size were selectively harvested. It might be that the owner knew the road builders were going to cut them anyway, but it definitely gives you an idea of how tree loss is going to be “minimized” along the stretch.
Days are numbered
This tree probably saw travelers in wagons pulled by horses pass by to shop in Cape. Considering how close it is to the road, I’d say its days are numbered. Just beyond that tree, before the white wooden fence IS something worth preserving.
The spring is still there, crystal clear and running enough to keep ice from forming on it when the nearby ditches were glazed over.
I guess the road folks could put up a tiny marker to remind us of what we’ve lost, not that anybody doing 55 in a 35 could see it or stop to read it.
Wooded homesites; non-wooded roads
A combination of governmental agencies, private logging and people too impatient to drive the speed limit have killed an historic scenic route into Cape Girardeau.
I’d love to save the spring, but I’m not sure that’s practical. If they don’t get it now, they’ll get it when the road is Mount Auburnized to four lanes in the next decade. The clearing of that land signals more development, which means more cars, which means more “need” for speed and “improvements.”
These photos show the next and final section of Bloomfield Road that is to be widened. Some are of private property that is adjacent to the road that has been logged. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.
The paper said Bloomfield Road was going to open today. TV news said it was going to open, but the signs said “Local Traffic Only” when we pulled up there this afternoon. Figuring that Mother was local and I had Florida tags and could claim I was lost, we kept driving. Before long, though, it was obvious that the road was blocked, so I grabbed my camera and started hoofing it. (Just as I was starting to leave, “Ryan” (no last name given) started removing the barricades from the road.) Click on any photo to make it larger.
I gotta tell you I really didn’t want to do this story. I’ve written about how I feel about the loss of an historic scenic road too many times. It’s a battle lost. I was going to make a strong case for trying to save the last segment, but I’ll show you tomorrow why I’m not even sure that battle’s worth wasting energy on. By the way, I refer to Phases 1, 2 and 3: the section in front of Campster School (1); this section ending at the Benton Hills intersection (2), and the final section, from the Benton Hill intersection to Hwy 74 (3). News stories refer to phases up to 5, but they’re dealing in more detail than I am. Sorry for any confusion.
How does it look?
Well, if you hadn’t seen it before, you’d think it looks pretty good. If you’re looking for the trees you knew and loved, they’re pretty much gone. “It won’t take long for the trees to fill back in,” a workman told me.
“Trees that are two or three feet around?”
“Well, uh, no, THOSE trees won’t come back quickly.”
Did they “minimize” tree loss?
On July 21, I wrote this:
Remember back in May when the city held a meeting to talk about the $1.25 million road-widening project? City officials said that as many as 150 trees would have to be taken down in order to widen the road from 22 feet to 28 feet. City Engineer Kelly Green was quoted by Scott Moyers as saying that the city has taken measures to minimize the loss of trees, but that some would have to come down in order to widen the road.
I’m going to say that ALL of the trees that appeared to be close to the right of way line were cut down except for the two next to the portable toilet. I might give the credit for saving three, but I think the one if the foreground was a little bit outside the line. If the city engineer or anyone else involved with the project would like to show me any stealth trees I missed, I’ll be around until the end of the week.
Any good news?
The project DID result in the construction of a nice, hilly curvy bike / ped path. The only problem is that it starts and stops without connecting to anything. The kinds of folks who find trail riding appealing aren’t going to brave traffic on Bloomfield Road to get there on their bikes.
How fast will traffic move?
The speed limit on the new section is 35 mph, the same as the old road. When I commented to my workman friend that one of the problems with the old road was that the 35 mph limit wasn’t enforced and that cars were moving at 45 or 50, he just sort of snorted and said, “at least.” So, how fast do you think they’ll go on a wider, straighter road? I’d love to rent a radar gun and log the average speeds once the road is fully open. Better yet, I’d love to sit out there with a speed cop who needs to make a quota.
Note those trees on the right side of the road? How long will it be before a speeder hits one of those and the outcry is to cut them “for safety?” And, if Mount Auburn Road is any indication – it was originally billed as a scenic drive – we can anticipate a push to make it four lanes within the decade.
Large Wooded Homesites
After all, those people who moved out to the country to enjoy their “large wooded homesites” and golf communities can’t be delayed a few minutes to appreciate the nature enjoyed by generations of the rest of us.
What about the final phase?
When I wrote about the project in July, I was hoping that it would be possible to rally enough support to see that the beauty of the final section of Bloomfield Road was preserved. I’ll post photos tomorrow to show why it may not be worth the energy and shoe leather to do it. I’ll also show the one thing on the final phase stretch that SHOULD be preserved for historic reasons.
This afternoon, Mother, Advance reporter Madeline DeJournett and her blackberry pie-baking fiance, J.D. Braswell, and I met with Advance historian Paul Corbin for three hours of history, gossip and tales about that small town.
During the course of the conversation, the topic of trips to Cape came up. Mother mentioned that her grandmother would always buy a pot when she shopped in Cape so that they could stop for a drink of water at the spring on Bloomfield Road..
Paul said his mother told him about going there on their shopping trips to Cape.”It took one whole day to get from Greenbrier (west of Advance) to the spring. They stayed all night at that spring. They took potatoes to sell and sorghum molasses, probably chickens and everything. They’d take some hay to put in the wagon – they’d sleep in the wagon.” The next day they’d go on into Cape to do their business and return to the spring to sleep that night. “It took three days to make the trip.” Paul is 97, and Mother will be 90 this fall.
I’ve been avoiding going down Bloomfield Road. Not because of the inconvenience, but because I didn’t want to see what had happened to this historic and scenic highway. It was late in the afternoon, so I decided to take the plunge. After writing about the construction plans, I felt like I should see how bad it was.
Tree loss to be minimized
Remember back in May when the city held a meeting to talk about the $1.25 million road-widening project? City officials said that as many as 150 trees would have to be taken down in order to widen the road from 22 feet to 28 feet. City Engineer Kelly Green was quoted by Scott Moyers as saying that the city has taken measures to mimimize the loss of trees, but that some would have to come down in order to widen the road.
Maybe they are just cutting saplings
The loss of a few saplings can’t be THAT bad. Surely they’ll spare the grand old trees that have been providing travelers shade since the horse and wagon days, right?
Big trees are cut, too
In order to get an idea how large some of the trees were, I put a dollar bill on some of the stumps. A dollar bill is exactly six inches wide. Based on that, this tree had to have been close to 30 inches across. That tree was probably a good size when the Corbins and the Welches were camping and drinking from the spring just up the road over a century ago.
They are ALL cut
In fact, it looks to me like every tree inside the right of way on the west side of Bloomfield Road is slated for removal or has already been cut. The only shade on that side is what’s provided by trees that are on private property.
Why is this important?
We’ve lost this stretch of road. These trees won’t be replaced in our lifetimes, our children’s lifetimes nor our grandchildren’s lifetimes. They’re gone and they ain’t coming back.
Moyer’s story went on to say, “And the loss of trees may not end there. While no specifics have been planned for the next phase, if it’s similar to this summer’s work, more trees will come down in two years. Project manager David Whitaker said the city is starting with the concept that the next phase will be similar to the work this summer, but added that input from the meeting Thursday could change the nature of the work in 2013.”
Make your voices heard
If you want to save what I think is the most unique section of the road, from what used to be Mount Tabor Park to Hwy 74, you had better start gearing up now. Watch the paper for notices of meetings and GO to those meetings to let the officials know that clear cutting the last section of roadway is not acceptable.
Do you want this or another Mount Auburn Road?
Stopping or modifying the last phase is going to be tough because the city is going to drag out the “safety” argument, saying that it’s dangerous to have a widened road feeding into a narrow one.
To that, I say “balderdash.” If the old Bloomfield Road was unsafe, it was because the speed laws weren’t enforced. Generations of drivers managed to navigate that road. Wider roads simply breed higher speeds and more traffic, which calls for more wider roads.
Alternative routes exist
There are alternative routes for drivers who feel the need to speed instead of appreciating the quiet, cool beauty of an historic roadway.
I want my grandkids to be able to show their grandkids where their great-great-great-great-great grandparents once camped when it took three days to make a 60-mile round trip.
Here’s a photo gallery that shows just how well city officials preserved the trees along Bloomfield Road. Keep them in mind when you start hearing talk about planning of the last phase. It may already be too late. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.