Our Opinion: MoDOT 2012 projects, progress aid Mid-Missouri

Incremental change is most noticeable when seen though the long lens of elapsed time.

For example, have you ever looked at a decades-old family photograph and marveled at the dramatic changes that were barely perceptible on a daily basis?

Similarly, the road work Missouri motorists encounter regularly and announced projects may seem unimpressive until grouped in an annual progress report.

The Central District of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recently listed improvements in Central Missouri during 2012.

Those improvements include:

• Construction of a new interchange at Missouri 179 and Mission Drive. The interchange will provide access to a new St. Mary’s Health Center complex and a site purchased by the Jefferson City School District for a proposed new high school.

• Groundbreaking for a project to widen U.S. 50 to four lanes from Jefferson City to Linn. The $25.5 million project is scheduled for completion in September 2014.

• Groundbreaking for a new $20 million railroad bridge spanning the Osage River in Osage City. The addition of a second mainline track will ease a bottleneck and reduce delays on routes used by Amtrak passenger trains.

• Construction of a new interchange at U.S. 63 and Route H in Boone County. The interchange provides more convenient access to Columbia Regional Airport.

• Completion of the agency’s Safe and Sound program with the opening of a new bridge in Gasconade County.

• Groundbreaking for a new Hurricane Deck Bridge in Camden County. The $32.3 million bridge is targeted for completion later this year.

How is an agency in an announced “maintenance mode” completing or starting these projects?

The explanation is two-fold, according to Sally Oxenhandler, MoDOT’s customer relations manager for the Central District.

“Many of these projects have been in the works for years,” she said, and now are either ending or beginning.

In addition, some projects are partnerships — the Missouri 179/Mission Drive interchange was a partnership among the state, Cole County and Jefferson City — and others are largely federal undertakings, including the Osage River railroad bridge.

The safety of Mid-Missouri motorists and the economic vitality of our area depend on infrastructure improvements and proper maintenance.

We commend MoDOT for its professionalism and productivity during the past year.

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