Work should begin later this month or in early September.
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission awarded a construction contract Wednesday for the new Interstate 55 interchange in Cape Girardeau County.
Commissioners awarded the $8.1 million contract to Dumey Contracting Inc. of Benton, Mo.
The East Main Street extension project includes grading, paving and bridge construction for the interchange located about two and a half miles north of Center Junction.
East Main Street will be constructed under I-55 in similar fashion to the Fruitland interchange, MoDOT officials said.
Work is expected to get underway later this month or early September. Initial work likely will include construction of temporary median crossovers and two ramps on the east side of the interstate, officials said.
Interstate traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction and then diverted onto the ramps, resident engineer Darius Dowdy said.
This will allow the contractor to excavate a hole in the middle of the project area and construct two bridges that will carry I-55 traffic over East Main Street.
"If we have a mild winter, we could be looking at completion in late 2007," Dowdy said. "If not, work could wrap up in 2008."
State highway officials don't believe the construction will cause significant traffic delays because traffic is lighter in that area than south of Center Junction.
But MoDOT project manager Andy Meyer said motorists can expect traffic to back up at times. "Obviously, it is probably going to be somewhat of an inconvenience to motorists," he said.
"Really," he said, "there is not a good way to get around it."
Federal, state, local and Southeast Missouri State University officials will kick off the project with a ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 31. The ceremony is scheduled to be held at 2596 County Road 618, about 1.7 miles from Route W.
In case of rain, the ceremony will be held at the Missouri Department of Conservation Campus at Cape Girardeau County Park North.
U.S. Sens. Kit Bond and Jim Talent and U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson are scheduled to speak.
Even as officials ready for the start of the interchange construction, work continues west of the interstate on the extension of Jackson's East Main Street. That street will connect to the interchange.
The city of Jackson is doing the street extension in two phases. "Phase one is about 50 percent completed," said Jackson public works director Rodney Bollinger.
The first phase involves construction of a stormwater detention basin, concrete drainage pipe, water and sewer lines.
Fronabarger Concreters Inc. of Oak Ridge is doing the work at a cost of about $600,000.
The city plans to award a contract for the second phase this fall. That phase will include the concrete paving of the road and sidewalks at an estimated cost of $600,000.
"We hope to get the concrete down by the end of the year if possible so MoDOT can just plug right into our street," Bollinger said.
The interchange will connect on the east side with LaSalle Avenue. The city of Cape Girardeau will construct that street. A consulting engineer currently is drawing up plans for the arterial street, city manager Doug Leslie said.
335-6611, extension 123