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Travelers comment on U.S. 54 improvement projects

Travelers comment on U.S. 54 improvement projects

June 13th, 2019 by Danisha Hogue in Local News

<p>Danisha Hogue/News Tribune</p><p>Ralph Beach reviews the map of intersection 18 Midway Road and Jamie Lane. A Missouri Department of Trasportation public comment meeting was Wednesday evening at Eldon High School.</p>

ELDON, Mo. — Discussion over the safety and operation of U.S. 54 corridor between Route E and Missouri 242 brought about 20 residents to Eldon High School on Wednesday evening.

The Missouri Department of Transportation wants public feedback on the stretch between Miller and Cole counties. The route includes 30 intersections where improvements are needed for safety and operation. Potential projects would begin at Route E in Brazito and end at Wood River in Osage Beach.

Fifty-five percent of those who took a MoDOT public safety trends survey in February said they felt unsafe making a left turn through the median to enter U.S. 54 from a side road.

Improvement options were presented by Trent Brooks, MoDOT's Central District traffic engineer.

The options of no treatment, left turn lanes, J-turns and more each have advantages and disadvantages such as risk of serious injuries in accidents, he said.

Meeting attendees were able to mark display boards of the intersections with priority projects — red being the highest priority, blue being medium and yellow being low.

Marvin Bunch lives near Midway Road and Jamie Lane in Eldon. The speed of drivers creates a long wait to make a right turn, he said.

A right turn lane could be a solution, he added.

Ryan Libbert, transportation project manager, said speed will not be a factor of what projects MoDOT chooses.

"We know speed reduction doesn't help the type of accidents we're having in this corridor," Libbert said.

Many travelers placed red stickers on the Missouri 15 and Route FF intersection. The MoDOT five-year crash summary recorded 24 accidents at the site.

Consulting engineers and residents agreed the nearby businesses contribute to the traffic. Opies Transportation, a livestock business, and residential neighborhoods use the route daily.

Brandon Opie, of Opies Transportation, said the trucks pull out slow, and traffic is often heavy.

Travelers said traffic in the summer increases due to visitors headed to the Lake of the Ozarks. At several of the intersections, residents mentioned waiting almost 10 minutes for a safe crossing.

Residents Judy Beach said she was glad the public was able to give their comments to MoDOT.

"If you don't speak up, they don't know what you think," Beach said.

Her husband, Ralph, and several others, placed blue dots on the Missouri 25 and Lakeland Drive intersection, which has a total of 26 crashes during the five-year period.

Next steps include allowing the public to take an online poll and then taking proposed changes to a public advisory council, Libbert said.

Projects could be confirmed by the end of this year.