By Wally Kennedy
Highway 249, also known as the Range Line Bypass, could be completed by the end of next year under Missouri’s new five-year transportation plan.
The proposed plan, now available for public review at www.modot.org, includes a number of projects in Southwest Missouri.
The Missouri Department of Transportation’s construction program lists all transportation projects planned by state and regional planning agencies for fiscal years 2008 through 2012. The projects total $6.5 billion over the five-year period, providing approximately $5.05 billion for highways and bridges.
Scott Bachman, transportation planning manager for MoDOT’s regional office in Joplin, said, “We are finishing our commitments and that includes the last project to complete the Range Line Bypass. We hope to have the paving of the bypass from Route 171 to Zora under contract in September.’’
The last segment of the bypass, estimated to cost $8.4 million, should be completed by the end of the 2008 construction season.
Another project in the plan is the widening to five lanes of East Seventh Street from Duquesne Road to Route 249. Bachman said right of way for the project will be acquired later this year for approximately $3.8 million. Construction would take place in 2010 at an estimated cost of $9.8 million.
The plan calls for work on the Bella Vista (Ark.) bypass in McDonald County in 2009. The start date for that project will depend on the progress that Arkansas makes in getting the bypass to the state line, he said.
When the work is completed, the highway departments in Missouri and Arkansas will redesignate Highway 71 as Interstate 49 from Joplin south to Interstate 40 at Fort Smith, Ark. Bachman said there is nothing planned for the conversion of Highway 71 to Interstate 49 north from Joplin to Kansas City.
“We will take a preliminary conceptual look at the corridor to determine the magnitude of the cost to do that, he said. “There is no money for construction in this plan.’’
The plan also includes the 2009 reconstruction of the Highway 39-Interstate 44 interchange at Mount Vernon, and study money to scope out work that is needed on Highway 37 from Republic to Monett and to Highway 60 from Monett to the state line with Arkansas.
Study money also is included for the west bypass in Joplin. The study would define a corridor to construct a bypass from Interstate 44 to Highway 171 north of Carl Junction. Bachman said that study work should begin later this year and would continue into 2008.
The plan also provides approximately $760 million for other modes of transportation, and approximately $700 million for city and county transportation programs.
The department’s customer service centers at 1-888 ASK MODOT (275-6636) are available to help residents interested in seeing the program or offering comments. The plans also may be viewed at MoDOT’s District 7 office at 3901 E. 32nd St. in Joplin. The public comment period ends June 25.
“We used an extensive public-involvement process to develop this program,” said Pete Rahn, director of MoDOT. “However, we are still very interested in the public’s input. The transportation-improvement program is an essential part of MoDOT’s communication with customers to let them know their investment is being spent on the most important transportation projects.’’
Rahn said the construction program will start with projects totaling $1.23 billion in 2008 and ends with projects totaling $570 million beginning in 2010.
“This happens because the Amendment 3 bond proceeds run out, and our state transportation program goes back to very low spending levels. This concerns us along with rising construction costs and declining revenues,” he said.
After the public review, the comments will be presented to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The commission will review the comments and the final transportation program before considering it for approval on July 18.
The plan includes a significant amount of resurfacing work on major routes, including Interstate 44, Highway 71 and Highway 171. The department is budgeting $20 million for that work in both 2008 and 2009, and $39 million in 2010.
<img src="http://www.joplinglobeonline.com/images/zope/extra.gif" border=0> Plan holds 2008 finish for Range Line Bypass <font color="#ff0000"> w/ MSTIP District 7 project map for 2008-2012</font>
By Wally Kennedy
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