In his June 2018 State of the City address, Springfield’s Mayor Ken McClure identified a vision for “a strong economic vitality corridor stretching from the new Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium to Park Central Square. From IDEA Commons to Historic Commercial Street.”
A grant opportunity was identified with the potential to move the community forward on this vision through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary grant program through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
BUILD is a $1.5 billion dollar, multimodal, merit-based discretionary federal grant program that aims to support new partnerships and multi-jurisdictional cooperation, including public-private partnerships. Grant merit criteria focuses on transportation projects that improve safety and equitable access, enhance quality of life, environmental protection and innovation. Grants range from $5 to $25 million and require a 20 percent match.
In 2018, the City’s Public Works and Planning & Development departments first convened a multi-departmental, multi-agency team to prepare a grant proposal for an attractive corridor connecting Springfield’s vibrant downtown to the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium, (WOW) with various neighborhoods, parks, greenway connections and other amenities in between. The envisioned “Grant Avenue Connect Parkway Project” would provide connectivity with an existing and heavily used rural trail network (Ozarks Greenways) and would coordinate with the metropolitan planning efforts of the Ozarks Transportation Organization.
Following an unsuccessful first application to the program, the project proposal was resubmitted with minor modifications in 2019 and the awarded nearly $21 million dollars for its implementation.