HANNIBAL - While the dedication of the Avenue of the Saints highway was postponed due to flooding in the region, MoDOT has re-scheduled the celebration for Friday, July 25, hoping to coincide the dedication with the actual opening of the road.
On Friday, July 25 at 9 a.m., Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota will officially dedicate the Avenue of the Saints at a ceremony on the newly constructed Route 27/61 interchange near Running Fox Elementary School just south of Wayland, Missouri. With representatives from these states, the ceremony will focus not only on the pending completion of the four-lane highway that will connect St. Paul, Minnesota to St. Louis, Missouri, but also feature several communities along the Avenue.
The program, parking and details of the event are available online at www.modot.org/northeast.
The celebration will begin on Thursday evening with a special reception in Canton. "This reception is an opportunity for us to thank and recognize those who have been instrumental in the completion of the last sections of highway in Missouri," said MoDOT Chief Engineer Kevin Keith. During the reception, Canton will be the first of several communities to be designated as a "Saints" community by MoDOT. Those expected to attend the event include federal, state, city and county elected officials, media representatives, members of the SMART group, and many transportation advocates from the tri-state area.
PROGRAM - FRIDAY, JUNE 27
The public celebration will be held July 25 and will include some unique presentations that will add to the dedication of this important highway. Guests who have been invited to speak include Senator Christopher S. "Kit" Bond, Senator Claire McCaskill, and Congressman Kenny Hulshof, all from Missouri. "Since it is unlikely our federal delegates will be unable to attend in person due to session, we are working with their staffs to create video that will be shown during the ceremony," said MoDOT Community Relations Manager Marisa Brown. Missouri Highways and Transportation Commissioners and MoDOT Chief Engineer Kevin Keith also will make remarks during the ceremony.
Even though Iowa completed their four-lane portion of the Avenue last year, Department of Transportation representatives are excited to be included in the ceremony. Iowa DOT Director Nancy Richardson will be speaking, and immediately following her comments a video will be played recapping Iowa's "Saints" designation of communities along the Avenue.
Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar, who also serves as Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, will provide remarks via video, accepting the "Saints" designation for St. Paul on behalf of the state.
Milton Sees, P.E., Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation, will be the final speaker on the program.
The program will conclude with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and the singing of the "Saints" song by Aani and Kirsten Brown from Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Emcees for the event include Tom Boland, a former Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Chairman, Don Carmody, a former Iowa Department of Transportation Commissioner, Chairman of the Avenue of Saints for Iowa for 18 years, and national transportation advocate, and Tom Oakley, president and CEO of Quincy Newspapers Inc. and long-time regional transportation advocate.
CARAVAN AND WHISTLE STOPS - AFTER THE CEREMONY
Immediately following the ceremony, dignitaries, guests and the public are invited to caravan down the Avenue making whistle stops in several communities along the way. "Included in MoDOT's mission is to promote a prosperous Missouri, and since this highway will now be a 550-mile four-lane spanning three states, we wanted these communities to have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the importance of the Avenue," Brown explained. Each whistle stop will last 15 - 20 minutes, and each community is coming up with a unique program. MoDOT officials will designate each community as a "Saints" community during the whistle stop, presenting them with a replica city limit sign with the "Saints" symbol. The symbol will be put on actual city limit signs the following week.
Cities and counties are invited to join in the caravan at their whistle stop, traveling to the next one. "Transportation is so important to northeast Missouri, so it is not surprising the enthusiasm and participation that has been shown by these communities," Brown said. The whistle stop schedule is below:
11 a.m. - Ceremony in LaGrange (city hall)
12:30 - 12:45 p.m. - Ceremony in Palmyra (Dent Drive/off Main Cross)
1:15 - 1:45 p.m. - Ceremony in Hannibal (middle school parking lot)
2 - 2:15 p.m. - Ceremony in New London (courthouse lawn)
2:45 - 3 p.m. - Ceremony in Bowling Green (outer road near Welcome sign - south I/C)
4 - 4:20 p.m. - Ceremony in Troy (courthouse lawn)
4:35 - 5 p.m. - Ceremony in Moscow Mills (Bank of Old Monroe)
6 p.m. - Ceremony/conclusion (press conference) at Spirit of St. Louis Airport
Brown stated that event planning began last fall with MoDOT, the Iowa DOT, Minnesota DOT, and the Great River Economic Development Foundation. "We really appreciate all the help we've had in developing the program and the details of the event," Brown said.