SIKESTON -- It's been nearly three weeks since Interstate 55 in southern Cape Girardeau and northern Scott counties has been reduced to one lane in each direction and everyone has been trying to get used to the situation.
"We are pleased with the number of people who have used the alternate route to get around construction," said Stan Johnson, Missouri Department of Transportation area engineer.
"That means less cars have to travel through the work zone and it makes things a lot better than it could have been."
In fact, so many motorists have moved their daily commute to Route 25 that congestion has been building at the route's intersection with Route 74. Drivers along Route 74 have experienced some delays while entering Route 25. However, MoDOT has plans to alleviate some of that traffic delay.
"We are planning to install temporary signals at the intersection," said Johnson. "The signals will only be up during the construction of the I-55/Route AB project. It will be a big change for those who normally use Route 25, but the temporary signals should greatly improve traffic flow at the intersection."
MoDOT began studying the added traffic at the intersection the first week I-55 lanes were reduced. In order to install the temporary signals, several things had to fall into place. First, MoDOT had to receive approval from the Federal Highway Administration. Then the department partnered with AmerenUE to develop a utilities plan for the intersection. Currently MoDOT is working to hire a contractor to install the signal poles so that MoDOT's workforce can complete the project.
The temporary signals will be located on a span wire above the intersection. Sensors will be installed in the pavement to activate the signals.
"We want motorists to be aware of this work," Johnson said. "We'll make additional information available once the details are worked out with the contractor and before the signals are activated."
Meanwhile, asphalt work is expected to continue next week on I-55 and after paving is complete the crossover will be striped and the existing striping will be removed to direct traffic to the crossover. MoDOT expects traffic to be diverted to the crossover within the next couple of weeks and will alert motorists prior to the change.
"We really want to thank motorists for their patience and for doing all they can to reduce congestion," Johnson said.
"We're working to make things go as smoothly as possible and to iron out any challenges that may pop up. We'll do our best to work as quickly as possible and get traffic back to normal."