JOPLIN, MO.--- Highway builders hosted their second public meeting to discuss a proposed interstate ramp off I44. Tonight MoDot administrators presented an alternate plan than what was originally proposed. The goal is to create a more direct route for trucks traveling to Heartland Pet Food Manufacturing. Originally, transportation officials suggested building ramps off of County Road 180 or 190, forcing many families to sell their property and move out of their homes. Tonight, they presented a new option where they would install round-about ramps off of County Road 190. It would only impact 15 properties, as opposed to the other option which would affect 25. Residents say they don't want anyone to have to move but they understand it is something that has to be done.
"I've put a lot of time into my place. I don't want to lose it, but then on the other hand, I don't want to smell the dog food plant, but it looks like that is what I'm going to have to put up with for a while," states Gary Hunter, home owner on County Road 190.
"We heard far more property owners on County Road 180 were more concerned about property impacts than County Road 190. Even the few that were impacted on County Road 190, understood it made sense that they be subject to that," states Dan Salisbury, MoDot Assistant Director District Engineer.
The pet food distribution center will be able to employ at least 129 more people if their was an easier access to the highway. The project will cost MoDot 10 million dollars. Builders are not sure how many homes will have to be destroyed, but they say they will make every effort to avoid that from happening. MoDot administrators plan to have another public meeting before the end of the year.