New project will repair Highway 34 and make it safer

Friday, January 4, 2013
ADAM VOGLER ~ avogler@semissourian.com
A vehicle travels east on Highway 34 near Cape County Road 360
Thursday, Jan. 3. A project to improve Highway 34 between Jackson and Marble Hill will be discussed in a public hearing conducted by the Missouri Department of Transportation Thursday at the Bufordville Baptist Church in Bufordville. The project, still in the preliminary stages, involves the resurfacing of the road, the addition of widened, paved shoulders and improvement of the side slopes.

A project to improve a stretch of Highway 34 in Bollinger and Cape Girardeau counties will be discussed Tuesday, Jan. 8, during a Missouri Department of Transportation public hearing in Burfordville.

The cost of the project likely will exceed $6 million, and it will span more than 15 miles of Highway 34 -- from Hurricane Creek Bridge east of Marble Hill, Mo., to Highway 72 in Jackson. It will involve resurfacing the road, adding widened and paved shoulders, and improving side slopes.

According to Jeff Wachter, MoDOT designer for its Southeast district, planned improvements are a combination of road repair and road safety.

"It's a heavily traveled road," he said. "There's several spots on it that need to be reworked, and paved shoulders will replace the gravel that's on the sides of the road, gravel that can cause a vehicle to run off the road if a wheel hits it just right."

Wachter hopes work on the highway's side slopes -- from the edge of the shoulder to the ditch -- will create safer driving conditions.

"The side slopes are too steep right now," he said. "We want to flatten them to lessen the distance from the road to the ground. If we do that, we feel we can reduce the chance of serious injury to motorists if they do happen to run off the road."

The curvy Highway 34 has been the site of several accidents throughout the years, including some fatalities.

Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan said he was familiar with accidents on the Cape Girardeau County portion of the highway, and he is in favor of any improvements that can be made.

"Anything they can do to improve Highway 34 is a good thing," Jordan said. "I'm for whatever it takes to prevent accidents. A widened, paved shoulder will be very welcome."

Jordan has traveled the highway since he became a licensed driver.

"It's a road you have to pay attention to. All it takes is for a wheel to drop off the edge and you're in the ditch," Jordan said.

Calls to Sheriff Darrin Shell of Bollinger County went unreturned as of Thursday evening.

The public hearing will be from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Burfordville Baptist Church on Route EE.

Wachter said a formal presentation will not be given, but it will have an open-house format to let attendees speak with a member of a project team.

"I hope anyone who is interested attends," Wachter said. "Public comment is a part of our process."

A contract for the project, still in its preliminary stages, is expected to be let by MoDOT toward the end of the year with construction beginning in spring 2014.

MoDOT is involved with another Highway 34 project that runs from Marble Hill to about three miles west of Glenallen, Mo.

That project involves paving the highway's shoulders at a cost of more than $8 million. That portion is scheduled for completion in July 2014.

For more information, contact MoDOT at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT or go to www.modot.org.

klewis@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address: Route HH, Burfordville, Mo.

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