The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 16, 2013

MoDOT prepares final push to finish Range Line interchange

Work is going full-throttle to get Joplin’s reconfigured interchange at Interstate 44 and Range Line Road ready to open.

The new diverging diamond design that replaces a cloverleaf will open Sunday night or early Monday morning. In the meantime, representatives of the Missouri Department of Transportation are going full speed to inform motorists that there will be traffic disruptions later this week as they push toward finishing the interstate ramps.

There will be temporary ramp closures beginning Thursday. On Saturday and Sunday, north and south lanes at the interchange will be closed to traffic, said Dan Salisbury, MoDOT’s assistant district engineer.

“We can do it much faster and much safer for the traveling public” by shutting down the road than if workers tried to finish the ramps and intersections with traffic flowing, Salisbury said. “There is too much work for people to be in the middle of that.”

Craig Chapman, the resident engineer, said closures will start on Thursday with work to finish the ramps on the west side of Range Line. He said that involves the tie-ins to connect the street and the interstate with the new ramps, installation of guardrails and directional signs. On Friday, that work will transfer to the east-side ramps.

All four ramps are expected to be completed and open to traffic on Saturday morning, Chapman said.

Once the ramps are ready, the construction crew will focus on the new intersections and lanes that will move traffic beneath the interstate bridge and onto the ramps. He said there will be a complete closure of the north and south lanes for construction of islands, new traffic signals and lane striping. That work will take 24 to 30 hours.

Chapman said his goal is to have the road reopened Sunday night or at the latest by 6 a.m. Monday.

That does not mean all the work will be done on the project. There will still be final grading, seeding and mulch of the land around the interchange, a new barrier wall to be built on the interstate and other work. Full completion is scheduled for Dec. 1.

“We’re right on schedule,” Chapman said.

The project is budgeted at $8 million. Bids for the work came in below the budget projection. The entire project is being funded by savings from other highway projects.

Motorists on the interstate will be notified of the shut-downs by messages on the highway’s electronic signs.

Salisbury said the weekend work will not block entrances to any of the businesses in the vicinity.

“People will be able to get to the businesses, but they will have to take another direction,” he said, other than trying to come off or under the interstate.

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