MoDOT anticipates record construction

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Missouri motorists won't have any trouble finding a highway work zone this summer.

"This summer we will literally have a thousand work zones," Missouri Transportation Department director Pete Rahn said during a visit to Cape Girardeau Tuesday. "That's an unprecedented level of construction in the state."

Rahn said funding from Amendment 3, approved overwhelmingly by voters in November to funnel all of gas tax and vehicle sales tax revenue to transportation services, has allowed MoDOT to plan a record number of improvement projects.

Major projects in Southeast Missouri include resurfacing work on interstates 55 and 57, and on U.S. 67. That work already is under contract.

Over $60 million of work already has been awarded on road improvements in Southeast Missouri, said Cheryl Ball, interim district manager for MoDOT in Sikeston.

MoDOT also plans to resurface major business routes in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Poplar Bluff, Scott City and Sikeston. The state highway commission is expected to approve those projects in August and construction could begin by October, MoDOT officials said.

Those projects include: Route K from Highway 25 at Gordonville to Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau; U.S. 61 from the highways 61, 25, 34 intersection in Jackson to the Interstate 55 exit ramp on South Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau, a part of U.S. 67 at Poplar Bluff, Main Street in Scott City from I-55 to Route N, and a stretch of Highway 62 in Sikeston.

While the highway work will improve transportation, Rahn said his agency wants to inconvenience motorists as little as possible.

"We don't need to make a lot of people mad needlessly in the process," he said.

To that end, Rahn said MoDOT will require contractors to do much of the construction work at night including resurfacing work on busy Kingshighway and other business routes in the Bootheel.

Ball said MoDOT wants to avoid the heavy traffic congestion that occurred during construction of the Diversion Channel bridge near Scott City.

Rahn said it's important to take into account the needs of motorists in proceeding with construction work. "We are supposed to help people get around," he said during a visit to the Southeast Missourian office.

In addition to funding from Amendment 3, Rahn -- who took over last September -- has implemented a "practical design" policy that allows road and bridge projects to be built at less cost.

That's already saved about $400 million, which is being plowed back into road projects, he said.

Practical design includes looking to install box culverts rather than highway bridges where warranted and not building an excessively wide bridge when a narrow span will do.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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