JOPLIN, Mo. —
Missouri Department of Transportation officials are hoping there will be fewer accidents at the intersection of Highways 43 and 96 near Oronogo after a roundabout is constructed to replace the traditional traffic crossing there.
The intersection will be closed starting Monday for the project, which is to be completed in late October.
Officials decided on the roundabout after earlier efforts to alert motorists to the intersection did not reduce the number of traffic accidents occurring there, said Dan Salisbury, assistant district engineer with MoDOT.
The intersection “looks fantastic as far as sight distance and the expectation it would be safe,” he said. “But when you look over crash data for the last 10 years, you see there has been some very serious accidents there.”
He said additional warning signs, then larger signs and rumble strips were added at the approach to encourage people to focus on the intersection.
“We tried different, lower cost solutions, but none were as effective as wanted. It’s like people were lulled to sleep,” he said.
The new construction will require all the approaching traffic to slow to navigate the roundabout. The project will be of single-lane construction, and large enough to accommodate big trucks that use the crossing along with other vehicles, Salisbury said. The project will include highway lighting and new signs. APAC-Missouri, of Columbia, is the primary contractor on the project at a cost of $860,000.
The roundabout will be a change for residents who are used to the intersection, Salisbury said.
“It’s going to be different, but what we find is that people like it once they get used to it,” he said.
He noted the first roundabout constructed in the region was in south Carthage and then-Mayor Ken Johnson was concerned it would not work, or be accepted by residents.
“He had some real concerns at first, and then he became our best spokesman,” he said.
During the closing, a detour route will be set up to help drivers get around the intersection. Drivers will be able to reach driveway and county road entrances on Highways 43 and 96, but will not be able to travel through the work zone.
The signed detour route will use Route 171, Route M, Route O, Route 96 and Route D, though department officials say they expect local motorists will use some other county roads.
The project is set for completion by Dec. 1, but highway officials say the contractor hopes to have the project complete by late October.