The MoDOT project includes "safety and efficiency improvements" which will "greatly improve the safety of this area," according to Scott Meyer, district engineer.
The northbound Diversion Channel Bridge on Interstate 55 just north of Exit 91 will be replaced with a new seismically-designed, three-lane bridge, said Meyer.
He explained the third lane will serve as an acceleration lane for the northbound on-ramp. The current two-lane bridge has no acceleration lane. The project also includes relocating the interchange's on and off ramps to accommodate their use by large trucks for better traffic flow.
A large truck stop and restaurant are located off Route AB (Nash Road) to the northeast of the interchange, and a large trucking company to the northwest.
The interchange also provides access to the nearby Cape Airport and SEMO Port.
Additionally, the project will include lighting as well as infrastructure to allow for future traffic signals.
Meyer said those who travel in that area should consider alternate routes, carpool, and, if possible, adjust their schedules to "minimize the impact of this work zone."
"I'm glad to see it start," said Rep. Myers, who noted the downside would be that those who have to travel through the area "will have to one-lane it" while the project is completed.
Penzel Construction Company of Jackson was awarded the $10.7 million contract in August. The project is slated for completion in 2003.
The groundbreaking ceremony included an unveiling of a new work zone sign advising motorists of the $250 fine for speeding or passing in an active work zone. "You can tell by the sign, we are trying to get their attention," said Meyer.
Effective Tuesday, those caught both speeding and passing in an active work zone could be fined on each offense for a total of $500 in addition to other imposed fines.
The new work zone signs were unveiled around the state Tuesday.