By Wally Kennedy
PINEVILLE, Mo. — It’s not the same as a shuttle launch, but everything’s “a go” for the opening today of the last remaining segment of the new U.S. Highway 71 in McDonald County.
“It’s gonna happen,” said Steve Campbell, project manager for the Missouri Department of Transportation. “At 10 a.m. (today), we will stop everyone from entering the project from any direction. At 10:15 a.m., we will lead them through, and that will open the new highway.”
A meeting with local law-enforcement officials was held Tuesday to review traffic control.
When the highway opens, motorists will see firsthand how much limestone was blasted away through a hilly stretch west and south of Pineville. Excavation for the 5.5-mile segment involved 5.3 million cubic yards of material. For motorists coming from the south, it will appear that they are traveling through a canyon of dark-gray stone. Several cuts are in the 100-foot range.
The $46 million project, which started in June 2005, will wrap up later this year.
Though the new highway bypasses Pineville, the trade-off is a safer road, said Mayor Dawayne Lasiter. He also said the city has received inquiries about property around the new highway.
“Some of the inquiries we have had about the land will not impact us that much,” he said. “The growth will be out around the new highway, but it will still help our area.”
The city is attempting to annex a large portion of the new highway south of Pineville near Wolf Den Road.
“What will definitely help us out a bunch is when the new highway takes the truck traffic out of Pineville, other than local deliveries,” Lasiter said. “There have been wrecks involving big trucks at H and K highways, and at the light there at the Elk River bridge. This will reduce our traffic accidents along there tremendously.”
By Wally Kennedy
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