Next exit: Scott City

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Missouri Department of Transportation says it has begun the process for considering a new interchange south of the existing Scott City interchange on I-55. The new interchange would relieve some of the heavy volume that snarls traffic going in and out of Scott City most weekdays. And it would connect the Kelso area and Scott City to a proposed traffic corridor that would extend all the way north to Nash Road, which would provide yet another access to the interstate for that area.

All of this is bound to be good news for motorists who currently go through the Scott City interchange on a regular basis. State and local officials have acknowledged for years that the current exit is woefully inadequate. Now preliminary environmental studies are beginning, a key first step toward eventual construction of a new interchange.

Where the interchange will be is still up in the air. But the planning process for a new interchange will include opportunities for area residents to have their say.

A year ago, federal funding in the amount of $5 million was set aside for a new bridge over Ramsey Creek and connecting roads, which would be part of the new north-south corridor to Nash Road. Local and state governments must come up with a 20 percent match. Scott City and Scott County already have some money set aside for the project.

Local officials would like for the new interchange to be built as quickly as possible. Even if they have to wait awhile, the good news is that another interchange is in the works.

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