The Missouri Department of Transportation is on track to make major improvements next year to Highway A, between Washington and Union.
“We’re moving forward with the design,” Judy Wagner, MoDOT area engineer, reported Monday. “It will be built next summer.”
The plan is to construct 2-foot shoulders, resurface the highway from Chamber Drive at Washington to just north of Independence Drive in Union and make other safety improvements, including guardrails in certain areas and improved stormwater drainage facilities.
“This will be a difficult project to build,” Wagner told members of the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee during their regular meeting.
Wagner noted that the biggest problem with the project is the large number of homes that are in close proximity to the highway.
MoDOT planners still have to determine when will be the best time to build improvements, she said.
There’s so much traffic on the highway during the day that making improvements then would result in long lines as lanes are closed, Wagner said.
Working at night presents other problems with lighting and the beeping noise caused by trucks and other heavy equipment while backing up, Wagner noted. Those beepers are required under federal OSHA standards, she added.
“It will be difficult with all the homes there to find the right time to work on the project,” she said.
Wagner said she expects the project can be completed in one year, but with the large amount of utility relocations required it could go over into the next construction season.
The project will include the installation of rumble strips between the pavement and new shoulders, Wagner said. But they will be narrower than the standard strips to reduce the noise. Planners may eliminate centerline rumble strips as another way to cut down on noise, she said.
The total cost of the improvements is estimated in the 2014-17 federal Transportation Improvement Program at $4.2 million. The cost of construction is $3.96 million, according to the latest TIP.
The state will not pay to acquire any right of way for the project, according to the TIP.
The current 11-foot-wide driving lanes will be maintained but resurfaced and the shoulders will be added. There are three areas along the 8-mile stretch where curves will be improved.
Wagner said Monday that the project will not include any changes at the Highway A/Route YY intersection.
However, she said MoDOT is still looking into adding advance warning signals to alert motorists approaching the intersection.
State and local officials have been pushing for improvements along the highway for many years.
In July 2005, the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee drafted a letter urging MoDOT to find funds for safety improvements along Highway A.
In 2009, Franklin County applied for $3,096,910 in economic stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for Highway A. That project, however, was among 17 applications by local government entities in the county that were not approved for funding.