MoDOT to meet with residents on plan to widen Highway 72

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Missouri Department of Transportation is planning to widen Highway 72 in Cape Girardeau and Bollinger counties and will meet with area residents next week to discuss the impact.

MoDOT will widen both 11-foot lanes to 12 feet and create paved shoulders from Highway 51 in Bollinger County to Highway 34 in Cape Girardeau County. Workers also will make improvements to some hills and curves.

Jeff Wachter, transportation project designer for MoDOT, said about 200 people own property along that section of Highway 72. To introduce the project, MoDOT will have an open-house meeting from 4 to 7 p.m. July 28 at Millersville Baptist Church.

"We try to hold these scoping meetings to get people along the route aware that the project is coming," Wachter said. "We also can get their thoughts and ideas, and if they have problems with some curves or there's a bridge that they think needs replaced, then we can take that into consideration as we start design on the project."

Although MoDOT has not finished preliminary planning, Wachter said, construction from Highway 51 to the Cape Girardeau County line is scheduled to begin in 2008 and MoDOT will take bids in 2007. Construction from the county line to Highway 34 will be let in fall 2008, with work set to begin in 2009. Workers should finish the entire project by the end of 2009.

Wachter said motorists can expect some minor inconveniences and may be restricted to one lane during construction. He said MoDOT also may need to acquire some right of way, usually 5 to 10 feet, from property owners to widen the road.

The upcoming plans are part of a larger Highway 72 improvement project spanning from Fredericktown, Mo., to Jackson, Wachter said.

Even though MoDOT has set a timetable for work, some people in the area are still skeptical about the project.

Roger Moyer, who owns Millersville Gas and Grocery on Highway 72, said he has already contacted MoDOT and some state legislators about a dangerous blind hill right outside his store, but nothing has been done yet to fix the problem. He said several people have had accidents while pulling out of his driveway because they couldn't see, and now he always tells delivery truck drivers to go in and out the back way.

"You can't get out of here without half killing yourself," Moyer said.

Jack Stone, a former construction worker who has lived in the Millersville area for most of his life, agrees that the road is dangerous and needs work. He said he rarely takes Highway 72 anymore when he travels to Cape Girardeau because the bumps and potholes have gotten so bad. He said the last time the road was repaved also did little to help.

"They can't put an inch of asphalt on it and expect it to be smooth," Stone said. "It was just like icing a cake."

wmcferron@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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