The Missouri Department of Transportation hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning in St. Clair to mark the beginning of a countywide road safety improvement project.
There are 16 locations within Franklin County slated for safety improvements through a state design-build project that is modeled to expedite the time line for upgrades, as well as cut costs. St. Clair residents can expect improvements to be made to Highway 47.
“The improvements are all aimed at Missouri’s blueprint, which is the state’s strategic highway safety plan designed to reduce the number of fatal and serious crashes on Missouri roadways,” said Bill Schnell, assistant district Engineer for MoDOT.
“Over a 10-year period, the improvements are expected to reduce the number of serious and fatal crashes by more than 70 people. That alone speaks volumes about this project when we have more than 500 people a year killed on Missouri roads.”
Schnell said the improvements made to Highway 47 are projected to save 13 people from fatal and serious crashes.
“Using the design-build method, MoDOT is able to implement safety solutions quickly, efficiently and cost effectively. Fast implementation of safety improvements saves more lives,” he said.
MoDOT entered into an agreement with N.B. West Contracting, St. Louis, in May to design and build $24 million in safety upgrades throughout Franklin and St. Charles counties. N.B. West is partnered with Horner & Shifrin, Inc., Lochmueller Group and Engineering Design Source Inc. N.B. West was one of five design-build contractor teams competing for the project.
Construction is expected to begin this fall, and will be complete by fall of 2019.
The upgrades range from signage and rumble strips, to pavement improvements and intersection realignments.
At many locations, there will be no road closures during the work, or single-lane closures. Any work that disrupts traffic will be done during off-peak hours, Wagner commented.
Some work that would require lane closures includes a high-friction surface treatment. A coarse material will be applied to the road surface that will result in quicker braking times. The method would help drivers maintain better control of their vehicles. It would not cause any additional wear on tires.
Some roadways may include right-turn angle changes to make the turning motion “more severe.” This helps reduce accidents from people pulling out into traffic without stopping.
Another improvement at sites within the county are intersection conflict warning systems, a series of signs warning motorists of an upcoming intersection, and that vehicles are entering the intersection from side roads.
LED lights will be added at some locations to draw more attention to stop signs.
Reflective signal backplates, a yellow backplate added to a traffic signal, will improve visibility at traffic lights.
Warning indicators also will be installed during the design-build project. Those include “Stop Ahead” pavement markings warning drivers of an upcoming stop sign; and flashing beacons, a red light mounted on top of a stop sign to help draw attention to the sign.
Some locations also will include turf shoulders, made out of earth and compacted rock base. Other improvements include the addition of fluorescent curve signs, guard cables, wet reflective pavement markings and rumble strips.
The design-build process gives prequalified teams the opportunity to use innovative processes to meet established goals for a project. The contractor team whose proposal best meets the projects’ goals is determined to be the apparent best value.
MoDOT issued requests for proposals in January. The teams used that information to prepare their plans. Proposals were due to MoDOT in March. The contractor was selected in May.