The Oregon County Commission has announced that Highway 63 from Thayer to West Plains has been approved for passing lanes.
The commission consists of presiding commissioner Leo Warren, northern district commissioner Buddy Wright and southern district commissioner John Wrenfrow.
Warren said their office was notified recently by Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) district engineer Tom Stehn that the planned passing lanes will run from Route 19 north of Thayer to Route ZZ, south of West Plains in Howell County.
"The project is scheduled for letting in December and the bids are scheduled to be approved in January of 2008," Warren said.
He said if the project goes as expected it is scheduled to be started in the spring of next year and be completed by the fall.
The presiding commissioner said the estimated cost of the project is $7.5 million with $3.5 million of the project being spent in Oregon County.
The total length of the project is just over 25 miles with 12 miles being in Oregon County.
"The overlay will accommodate striping for climbing/passing lanes. Shoulder work will occur primarily in Oregon County and approximately 50 percent of the project through Oregon County will be striped for climbing/passing lanes," he said. Warren said in areas where there are three lanes there will be a 44-foot roadbed with two shoulders. In areas with two lanes there will be 10-foot shoulders and 12-foot lanes.
Warren said that although the passing lane project has been approved, he and the other commissioners are pushing MoDOT for for a four lane highway.
"The number one priority for our area is to put four lanes from the Arkansas line to near the Iowa line for a north/south corridor through the middle of our state. Our number two priority is for the state to bring back, what they called Scheduled Course Leveling for good highway surface for safety purposes and general preservation of roadways. Our number three priority is shoulders on the highest traveled roads with the most accidents and death/injury statistics," Warren said. He said this is a major problem throughout the region and was a high priority.
He said when anyone drops a wheel off of the pavement they are in a ditch and installing more culverts and tinhorns was also another distant priority.
MoDOT works with Regional Commissions throughout the state for priorities in each region. Each presiding commissioner throughout the seven county area appoints two other county residents to serve with them on the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC). Besides Warren Don Alford and Merle Williams serve on the TAC board.