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Traffic delays and drills


The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) warns those heading to or from the Niangua and Conway areas that they will notice a change in traffic patterns as they shift lanes on I-44.

As of Sunday, Oct. 15, all Eastbound I-44/Sarah Branch Bridge traffic near the 107.8-mile marker has returned to its regular pattern following the Bridge Replacement Project. Right now, the eastbound traffic runs through the median.

Road crews have closed one traffic lane while removing barrier walls and returning the traffic to the regular pattern on the new bridge. Lane closures will occur in the evening, so nighttime drivers will need to plan accordingly.

This work is part of a three-year project to improve 25 bridges within 15 miles of I-44 across the Southwest District. Of the 25 bridges in the project, known as the I-44 Corridor Bridge Bundle, seven (7) are mainline I-44 bridges, five (5) are I-44 overpass bridges and the remaining bridges are on adjacent routes over various features. Sixteen (16) bridges will be replaced and nine (9) bridges will receive major rehabilitation work.

Not too far down the same road, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, work began near the 106-mile marker. Eastbound lanes of I-44 over the Niangua River will be shifted into onto the new eastbound bridge. Westbound traffic lanes are split up. One lane transitions to the new bridge while the other remains on the old one as crews work to pave the new bridge. Currently both westbound lanes are on the old westbound bridge.

Both are part of a project expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2024. Weather and scheduling delays may alter the crew’s work schedule.

As MoDOT works on projects around Missouri, they also prepare for whatever nature may throw this winter.

Thursday, Oct. 19, drivers will notice a lot of MoDOT vehicles around as they participate in the annual winter operations drill. The exercise will begin at 8 a.m. for rural areas and 9 a.m. for urban, and all should be completed by 3 p.m.

The drill will be more significant as MoDOT, like many businesses, is experiencing turnovers and has open positions.

“While MoDOT has successfully hired approximately 100 new maintenance employees this summer, we are still several hundred employees below what is needed to cover more than one shift in a statewide storm,” said MoDOT Chief Safety and Operations Officer Becky Allmeroth. “Nearly 27 percent of our snowplow operators have less than three years of experience. Those three years did not include many significant winter storms, making this training more critical than ever.”

When winter arrives, over 3,000 employees across Missouri are involved to help clear the roads and bridges.

During the drill, MoDOT employees will react to a simulated forecast of significant snow across the state.

At that time, the department’s emergency operations centers will activate, and all employees involved in winter operations will be deployed on their trucks. Emergency communications systems will also be tested during the exercise.

“Safety is the cornerstone of everything we do at MoDOT,” said Allmeroth. “The drill ensures that proper equipment, plowing techniques, and safety measures are used by every MoDOT employee.” In addition, every piece of equipment, including the trucks, motor graders, snow blowers, and tractors, will be inspected and calibrated to conserve materials and operate efficiently and safely.

For the most up-to-date information on road conditions during winter, drivers are encouraged to use the Traveler Information Map at traveler.modot.org or download the MoDOT Traveler Information app available on the Apple Store and Google Play.


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