Previous safety measures haven’t curbed deadly accidents
In 2011, Lathrop City Councilman Gerald Snodgrass traveled to Jefferson City for Great Northwest Days, an annual event during which – among other things – leaders in Northwest Missouri bring local issues to state legislators in hopes of action.
While there, Snodgrass and others spoke to representatives of the Missouri Department of Transportation about the intersection of 116 Highway and 69 Highway on the east side of Clinton County. As straightforward as the intersection might be – a pair of two-lane highways, with stop signs for the lighter north-south traffic – it had proven to be a dangerous magnet for accidents.
The very next day, Snodgrass was traveling through the intersection when he was in an accident.
A decade later, Snodgrass welcomed news last week that MoDOT is proposing a roundabout at the intersection. While he isn’t the biggest fan of the circular interchange, he said that something had to be done.
MoDOT has added safety measures since 2011, but deadly accidents have continued. According to MoDOT, three crashes accounted for four deaths between 2011 and 2018, with a fourth deadly accident occurring in 2019. Approximately 5,000 motorists go through the intersection each day.
MoDOT began studying larger solutions after the 2019 accident, eventually landing on the roundabout, which is slated for construction in 2022. According to the department, roundabouts can reduce serious accidents by nearly 90 percent, as they slow traffic while having fewer points for possible collision.
MoDOT is in the initial phases of the planning process, which includes comments from the public. Because of the pandemic, the department won’t be hosting any public meetings. Rather, residents can visit the project’s MoDOT webpage to see full details and provide feedback. There will also be two live call-in sessions on Tuesday, February 16 – one at 9 a.m. and another at 4 p.m. – which will include the project manager. The number for the call in is (816) 387-2483.
Residents can send their thoughts at anytime over the phone, calling MoDOT’s customer service department at 1-888-275-6636.
Under MoDOT’s current schedule, the project would be bid in August of this year, with a soft start date on October 4, 2021. The contractor will not actually begin work until March 2022, after the winter months. The department projects that the roundabout will take 135 construction days, and work would need to be completed by November 2022.
There are expected to be three phases to the project. The first would include a single-lane bypass south of the current intersection, during which Highway 69 south of the site would be closed.
The second phase will be the meat of the project. The roundabout and its features will be constructed. Traffic on Highway 116 will move along via the bypass with stoplights on either end. Traffic on 116 Highway won’t be able to turn north or south onto 69 Highway, while both directions of 69 Highway will be closed.
In the final phase, the south leg of 69 Highway will be constructed and connected to the roundabout. Traffic on 116 Highway and 69 Highway north will be open, while 69 Highway south will be closed.
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