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Highway 54 bridge project near Missouri River to begin July 15; traffic delays expected


A project to repair the Highway 54 overpass over Highway 50 and McCarty Street in Jefferson City will begin Monday, according to a Tuesday press release from the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Lanes will be reduced to one lane in each direction on Monday, July 15, the release says. All on-and-off ramps will remain open. The release warns that traffic on Highway 54 could stretch miles for daily commutes. The project will be completed in two phases during a 90-day period, according to the release.

The release says lanes will also be narrowed by five feet on July 15 and the speed limit will be reduced to 35 miles per hour. Assistant District Engineer Randy Aulbur said the bridge would not be affected by the lane closures.

Some nightly lane closures on Highway 50 could occur, according to the release.

“This work is vital to keep these 60-year-old bridges in good condition, but we will have to narrow lanes and slow down traffic for everyone’s safety,” Central District Engineer Machelle Watkins said in the release. “While eastbound traffic will be restricted to 10-foot-wide vehicles, it’s important for motorists to realize that most vehicles – including boats and RVs – are 8-feet, 6-inches, or narrower. Anything wider than the legal width of 8-foot-6-inches requires an over-dimension permit from MoDOT’s Motor Carrier Services.”

Aulbur said MoDOT had to wait to start construction until it could get permits from some of the railroad utilities.  

“The real timelines associated with it are really dictated by weather conditions for the type of work were trying to do and the window of time we are trying to get it done in,” Aulbur said.

The timing of the project had several people concerned about how it will affect some of the summer holidays. 

During a June 17 Jefferson City Council meeting, Ward 5 Councilman Mark Schwartz pointed out that Independence Day and Labor Day are especially busy times when people head to the Lake of the Ozarks.

‘I’m glad MoDot hasn’t started construction yet. I’m highly concerned about the ramifications of pushing traffic into a bottleneck during a very popular weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks," Schwartz told ABC 17 News in a statement. "We need, and want, our friends from Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Kansas, as well as our taxpaying citizens to have a direct access across the river to the Lake."

Social media posts expressed similar concerns on how the traffic could affect businesses. Aulbur said while he understands people’s frustration, the project will help prevent an even longer delay in the future. 

“Really a lot of the structures in and around Jeff City are starting to age out. They were built back in the ‘60s and they just need a little TLC,” he said. 

Article Topic Follows: Transportation

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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