Many of us love the freedom of an open road. We also want each and every trip to end safely.
Ease of travel and safety are important MoDOT goals as well.
Those principles are the backbone of our plan to rebuild the I-44/Range Line Road interchange in Joplin starting in late summer or early fall and running through the end of 2013.
The large-scale project will replace the aging I-44 bridges over Range Line Road, eliminate cloverleaf ramps in favor of straight ramps and convert Range Line Road into a Diverging Diamond Interchange.
You may have heard about the Diverging Diamond Interchange design. You may even have driven one in Springfield, Branson, Kansas City or St. Louis. We hope you come to understand how the design keeps traffic flowing and reduces crashes, especially right-angle crashes where cars try to turn left onto the freeway in front of oncoming traffic.
The Diverging Diamond Interchange shifts traffic to the left-hand side of the road at traffic signals on either end of the interchange, enabling left-turning drivers to turn without facing traffic from the opposite direction. It also enables through traffic -- those not wishing to turn onto the freeway -- to move through the interchange without having to worry about someone turning left in front of them.
It really works. That's why you're going to see more of these interchanges built in Missouri and in many other states.
To get an idea of how the design works, check our web site -- modot.org/southwest . You'll find study animations, drawings and a written explanation. Spend a few minutes. We think it will help you.
The project's construction will be a challenge. Traffic disruptions always occur during construction. However, MoDOT will work with its contractors to keep traffic moving. Most lane and ramp closings will be at night when traffic is much reduced. We're not saying there won't be pain but we will do our best to minimize it.
And don't worry. If you run a business near the interchange, your customers will be able to reach your door during construction, even though it might take them a few extra minutes to get there. We want to see everyone able to conduct business as usual amid all the orange cones and construction signs.