From staff reports
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A roundabout at the intersection of Missouri highways 43 and 96 opened Monday.
The intersection north of Joplin has been the scene of numerous serious and fatal accidents through the years, and Missouri Department of Transportation officials said they hope the new design will improve safety.
Work on the roundabout began in early September.
Through the years, the state has tried warning signs, then larger flashing signs and rumble strips at the approaches to encourage people to focus on the intersection. None of the lower-cost solutions were effective, according to Dan Salisbury, assistant district engineer with MoDOT.
“I know it (the intersection) is one our own traffic engineers have worked on for years and were kind of at wits’ end,” he said.
The intersection had good sight distance for drivers from all directions, Salisbury said, but after analyzing 10 years of crash data, engineers concluded that something needed to change.
“There was no real good reason for the crashes to occur, other than people not paying attention,” he said.
The roundabout will create a visual object in the intersection and force people to slow down, he said.
“It just makes people think, and I think that is what was missing there,” he said.
The project is one of single-lane construction, and large enough to accommodate big trucks that use the crossing along with other vehicles, Salisbury said. The project also includes highway lighting and new signs.
APAC-MISSOURI, of Columbia, was the primary contractor on the project and got the job done at a cost of just over $700,000.