MoDOT's road projects shifting into high gear

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

With summer winding down, major highway road projects are heating up in the city of Jackson.

On Monday and Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Transportation was especially busy in the county seat.

On Monday, Penzel Construction officially began the widening of Highway 34/72. Later that night MoDOT district engineer Scott Meyer paid the board of aldermen a visit at its study session. And well before dawn on Tuesday morning, Fronabarger Concreters poured concrete under the lights on Route D near the Farmington Road intersection.

Glen Fronabarger said the work on Route D is going well. As of midday Tuesday, the first pour of the north side of the street was completed. The stretch of road between U.S. 61 and Broadridge has been closed since Aug. 3, but workers have been progressing quickly as the city has offered an incentive of $2,000 per day up to 10 days for early completion. City officials say the project will have a major impact on traffic once school begins Monday, the same week the Homecomers celebration begins.

Highway 34/72 is looking more and more like a construction zone every day. For several months, demolition crews have knocked down houses and utility workers have been moving water, sewer, cable, telephone and power lines.

On Monday, the construction officially began as workers cleaned out ditches. One of the first things the construction workers will do is build a retaining wall for the bypass.

Minor snags to upgradeAs with any large project, there have been some minor snags on the 34/72 upgrade.

The city will have to approve a change order because some water connections weren't quite where engineers thought they would be. Also, demolition wasn't completed on some basements of houses, causing a delay in the utility relocation. Meyer said MoDOT allows demolition crews to fill in basements in some instances, but in this case he said the demolition workers probably did not know the house was in the direct line of the planned utilities. He said he would work with the appropriate people to make sure the same thing didn't happen in future phases of the project.

MoDOT's next major project is the East Main Street interchange. Meyer said the design plans have changed to resemble the Fruitland interchange in that Main Street will go under the interstate instead of over it. He said this was a dirt issue: It will be more cost effective to remove dirt than to haul it in.

City officials say the organization of the transportation development district, or TDD, is moving slowly. A TDD could be used to help fund the interchange project, but it takes cooperation from all the various landowners. The city, still working to acquire right of way, has all but given up on the plan to have the Main Street extension completed before MoDOT begins work on the interchange. It budgeted $1.2 million this year for the East Main Street extension.

At Center Junction, Meyer said approval for Jackson and Cape Girardeau's lighting project will likely be approved on Thursday. The project will be completed some time in 2005. MoDOT had it scheduled for 2007, but the cities were able to get the project scheduled earlier by agreeing to pay two year's worth of interest.

In 2003, a St. Louis engineering firm commissioned by the city offered a number of solutions to Jackson's traffic congestion problems. As far as long-range improvements uptown and north to Fruitland, Meyer said it would be up to the city to decide how it wants to handle the traffic flow.

He said MoDOT would have more flexibility with that improvement than it had with the 34/72 project, where most wanted to have turn lanes instead of a median.

He said it would be cheaper to do the project all at once instead of dragged out over phases.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: