OSAGE COUNTY, Mo. - The four-lane expansion of U.S. 50 in Osage County, from the U.S. 50/63 junction to County Road 604 west of Linn, has reached the halfway mark.
The 6.6-mile project is on schedule to be completed by the September 2014 target date and is also on pace to come in on budget.
Progress on the $25.5 million project has included completion of 70 percent of the planned excavation work, the construction of box culverts and the construction of a new Maries River bridge. This bridge includes a support structure and girders made of a state-of the-art concrete mix that is stronger and costs less than traditional materials.
Depending on the weather, work on the Route A overpass should begin sometime after the first of the year and paving of the concrete driving surface could begin as early as the spring of 2014.
"Looking ahead, it's going to be kind of quiet for the rest of 2013, at least as far as motorists are concerned," said MoDOT resident engineer Terry Imhoff. "We'll continue with excavation and constructing embankments during the rest of 2013. But with most of the work on the new alignment happening off of the highway, motorists won't experience any traffic impacts when driving on the existing highway."
When completed, the realignment will remove many of the hills, curves and access points drivers currently have to navigate, greatly improving safety and traffic flow on U.S. 50.
Iron Mountain Services of Maryland Heights is the contractor.
This project is one of the last major expansions scheduled for U.S. 50, though MoDOT's five-year construction program does contain money for preliminary design of new highway lanes around Linn.
"It's (mostly) for cattle and not crop ground," Osage County Presiding Commissioner Dave Dudenhoeffer said. "It's going to be a gain for everybody."
The project will end west of Linn, so the 8,000 to 12,000 vehicles a day that travel through Linn on U.S. 50 won't disappear. But officials hope MoDOT eventually can build a bypass around Linn's north side.
"The traffic is an issue and, if you come through early in the morning or in the afternoon when the schools are convening or letting out, it's an extreme issue," Mayor Dwight Massey said. "We have some very solid businesses that don't rely on through-traffic, and I'm not really scared for our community if they do bypass us."
He believes the improvements - the four-lane open in two years and a bypass eventually - will help spur economic development in Linn and all of Osage County.
"I've actually talked with people who considered the city of Linn for businesses - and one of the drawbacks they had was the 6.5 miles of two-lane that stood between (Linn) and ready-access to a four-lane road system," he said. "Most of our funding is derived from employment.
"If we can't get more jobs, we're not going to have more revenue."
When finished, adding the four-lane to Linn still will leave 91 miles of two-lane road, or 36.4 percent of U.S. 50's 250-mile stretch across the state - from Linn east to Union, and between California and Sedalia.