Contract awarded for new US 63 interchange near Columbia airport

At their monthly meeting on Wednesday, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission awarded a project to construct a new diamond interchange along U.S. 63 at Route H in Boone County near the Columbia Regional Airport.

Chester Bross Construction Company/C.B. Equipment, Inc. of Hannibal, Mo. was awarded the contract after submitting the low bid of $9,793,257.30.

"The construction of this interchange has long been identified by local planning organizations and MoDOT as a need," said MoDOT Transportation Project Manager Nicole Hood. "The right of way for the interchange was acquired many years ago when the highway was upgraded to a four-lane divided facility. The interchange will allow for safe access to and from the Columbia Regional Airport and provide additional economic development opportunities for the community," said Hood.

The Missouri Department of Transportation will also construct new southbound lanes from just north of Missouri 163 to Route H. An outer road system will be created using the current southbound lanes.

"The creation of an outer road will allow us to remove several crossovers and provide safer access to and from this major highway," said Hood. For continuity of the outer road, MoDOT is coordinating with Boone County to pursue an option that would extend Meyer Industrial Drive behind the Magellan Pipeline as part of this project.

"This project does include modifying some of the existing access areas along U.S. 63 to include J-turns for safer entry and exit," said Hood.

A J-turn allows motorists to cross traffic on busy routes more safely while helping to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and serious injuries.

Instead of crossing over four lanes of fast moving traffic on a four-lane divided highway, drivers turn right in the same direction as traffic. Once on the highway, drivers safely merge into a left turning lane and then turn left to head in the opposite direction. The J-turn will help to improve safety by reducing the number of decisions motorists must make at one location when attempting to access or exit U.S. 63.

"Overall, we received positive comments about incorporating J-turns into the design, but there were some suggestions for minor adjustments, which we've tried to include," said Hood. "Based on public comments, we will also be installing lighting at several access areas along the highway. The new interchange area will also be lit."

Work will begin in summer 2011 and be completed in late 2012.

Motorists should expect some lane closures along U.S. 63 during the work. Crews will close access to and from Route H at U.S. 63 during the construction of the interchange bridge and motorists will be detoured.

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