OREGON COUNTY -- Something Oregon County Presiding Commissioner Leo Warren has pushed for almost 20 years is about to become a reality.
Approximately 25 miles of Highway 63, between Thayer and West Plains will go through an extensive makeover as soon as crews from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) get the nod to begin the work.
MoDOT Transportation Project Designer Pete Berry said the project involves overlaying and partially widening 25.42 miles of Route 63 from ZZ Highway, just south of West Plains to Route 19 in Thayer.
Berry said the project also calls for striping the roadway for climbing and passing lanes.
"This is something the county has needed for a long time. U.S. 63 is a busy highway and this will be helpful with the traffic flow and also ensure needed safety on the highway," Warren said.
Work on the project was awarded to Chester Bross Construction, Company/CB Equipment, of Hannibal, Mo., at a cost of $5,223,778. Berry said the amount came in $2.2 million under the original cost estimate.
"We have been asked many times to evaluate what can be done to increase capacity through this area. This project will create safe opportunities for motorists to pass and keep traffic moving," he said.
A news release from the South Central District of MoDOT said the striping configuration for climbing and passing lanes allows for three lanes of traffic with one lane of traffic alternating from one side of the road to the other. On the side of the roadway where two lanes of traffic are moving in one direction, motorists have an opportunity to pass slower moving traffic.
Barry said MoDOT has had success on other sections of Route 63 with this same approach. He said anyone that has traveled north of Houston, Mo., within the last year has seen this configuration at work. "It's a very cost effective way to increase capacity on an existing roadway." Barry said.
"We (the county commission) would like to see Highway 63 to West Plains made into a four-lane highway. We will continue to push for that. Right now we will settle for what we can get -- passing lanes.
Berry said the project is expected to be completed by November of this year.