Highway plan tackles rural roads, tricky intersections | public safety

Jax Mart convenience store clerks and customers don’t mince words when asked about the intersection of US Highway 59 near Alabama Street.

“Even if you think you’re gonna make it, you better shoot it.”

Help could be on the way with $6.1 million improvements planned for this sprawling intersection, which includes junctions with Route U and Route 752 as well as two railroad crossings. The Missouri Department of Transportation has planned intersection improvements in this area for 2024.

“It’s pretty significant,” said Marty Liles, MoDOT district engineer for northwest Missouri. “This intersection is a bit tricky. The goal is really to try to improve the mobility of the traveling public through this.

While important to the South Side, the intersection improvements are only a small part of a five-year, statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP. At its July meeting, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approved a STIP that included $10 billion in federal and state revenue for all modes of transportation, including $7.65 billion for roads and bridges. It covers the period from July 1 to June 30, 2027.

MoDOT updates the STIP annually on a rolling basis. In 2016, the plan was worth $2.5 billion. This year is considerably bigger with an influx of funds from the Federal Infrastructure Act and a 12.5-cent increase in the state gasoline tax, which is phased in over five years.

“On a statewide basis, this is one of the greatest programs we’ve had in history,” Liles said. “Any time we have additional funds, it helps us tremendously. We have more projects than ever before.

Part of this funding will be for long-ignored literate routes and farm-to-market routes in rural areas. In January, the Transportation Commission earmarked $25 million for low-volume roads that see 400 or fewer vehicles per day in rural areas. On top of that, the legislature approved Governor Mike Parson’s budget which earmarked $100 million for a similar purpose.

In the Northwest MoDOT District, 52% of low traffic roads are in good condition. The MoDOT wants to increase this percentage to 70%.

“For the first time in many years, we were able to see the resurfacing and improvements to these low-traffic roads,” Liles said.

In Buchanan County, STIP is calling for 17 highway and bridge projects. This includes seven bridge replacement or rehabilitation projects, seven pavement resurfacing or improvement projects, two intersection improvement projects, and drainage improvement work near South 30th and Pear streets. It is the site of regular flooding and an accident that killed five people in 2021. A contract could be awarded next month.

The future of the Interstate 229 bridge in downtown St. Joseph is not addressed in the plan, although there is reference to an environmental study that would include the elevated bridge.

In Buchanan County, the most expensive road and bridge project is the improvements at the Interstate 59 intersection.

JL Robertson, owner of Rupp Funeral Home, said South Side residents and businesses have wanted something to happen at this intersection for years. The area is frequented by heavy trucks as well as vehicles coming from the south on Highway 59 at high speed. There was even talk of a bridge over the train tracks at one point, although that never happened.

“It’s a very busy intersection,” Robertson said. “It’s dangerous, especially during the harvest season.”

MoDOT has not planned a bridge but will bring geometric improvements to the various entry points.

Liles said STIP’s overall plan focuses on maintaining existing road infrastructure versus new construction. Recently, MoDOT was able to repair 21 of its 182 bridges in poor condition in the northwest 20 county region.

“However, unfortunately six new ones came on board,” Liles said.

The projects in Andrew and Buchanan counties are:

— Pavement preservation treatment on various routes, $2.5 million, 2022.

– Interstate 29 roadway resurfacing from Business 71 south of Route O, $9.5 million, 2022.

— Resurfacing of Highway 71, $2.8 million, 2023.

— Rehabilitation of the DD road bridge (various counties), $1.9 million, 2023.

— Rehabilitation of the Route B bridge (several counties), $4.1 million, 2024.

— Rehabilitation of the I-29 bridge over Mill Creek, $2.5 million, 2024.

— Rehabilitation of the Missouri Route 48 bridge, $2.5 million, 2024.

— Rehabilitation of the Route B bridge over the 102 River, $1.6 million, 2026.

— Urgent replacement of a culvert and leveling of a ditch near 30th Street South, $240,000, 2022.

– Pavement resurfacing of Missouri Route 752 from Sherman Avenue to 22nd Street, Loop 29 from 22nd Street to the Beltway, and Route 59 from Country Club Road to I-29, 1, $6 million, 2022.

— Rehabilitation of the KK Road Bridge, under the Safe and Sound Bridge Program, $1.6 million, 2022.

— Replacement of the Highway Y bridge near Dearborn, $1.4 million, 2022.

— Rehabilitation of the I-229 bridge on Sixth and Atchison streets, $5.5 million, 2023.

— Rehabilitation of the Route AC bridge over Highway 36, $2 million, 2023.

— Rehabilitation of Cook Road Bridge over I-29, $1.1 million, 2023.

— Rehabilitation of the Gene Field Road bridge over I-29, $1.4 million, 2023.

— Preservation treatment of the pavement on highways 36, 169 and 6, $1.7 million, 2024.

— Pavement resurfacing of US Highway 169, Route FF and Route U west of Stockyards Expressway until end of state maintenance, 2024.

– Pavement resurfacing of Missouri Route 116 from Highway 59 near Rushville to US Highway 169, $2.7 million, 2024.

— Improvements to the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 at Route 752 and Route U, $6.1 million, 2024.

– I-229 pavement resurfacing from 22nd Street to I-29, $1.6 million, 2024.

— US Highway 169 at Riverside Terrace, intersection improvements, $2.6 million, 2025.

– Resurfacing of I-29 causeway from Pigeon Creek to the Platte County line, $5.7 million, 2025.

— Rehabilitation of the DD Road bridge over Bee Creek near Faucett, $668,000, 2025.

— Highway 36 pavement resurfacing, eastbound lane east of AC Highway to Highway 31, $3.1 million, 2026.