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The Carthage Press
  • MoDOT seeking comments on project list

  • After years of work by local planning agencies and transportation partners, Missourians are now being asked to weigh in on a list of transportation projects and improvements that could improve safety, create jobs, and boost Missouri's economy.
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  • After years of work by local planning agencies and transportation partners, Missourians are now being asked to weigh in on a list of transportation projects and improvements that could improve safety, create jobs, and boost Missouri's economy.
    The Missouri Department of Transportation will host an open house form 4 p.m.-7 p.m. today (Tuesday) at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Office to ask residents to take a look at the local priorities and share their thoughts and insights.
    The list includes hundreds of projects across the state, including some in and around Carthage.
    The big one in this area would improve Missouri Highway 171 and Missouri Highway 249 to interstate standards by creating an interstate-standard, free-flowing interchange at I-49 and Missouri 171 in Carthage.
    MoDOT Southwest Assistant District Engineer Dan Salisbury said this is expected to be the most expensive of the more than 200 projects proposed for Southwest Missouri.
    Creating an interchange where traffic doesn't have to stop to transfer from I-49 to Missouri 171 between Carthage and Webb City has long been under discussion as a way to move I-49 traffic off I-44, but Carthage City Administrator Tom Short, who has been attending regional planning meetings about this list, says no firm plan has been developed for how and where to build the interchange.
    Currently, I-49 follows the old U.S. Highway 71 to Fidelity, then joins I-44 between Fidelity and the Missouri 249 interchange southeast of Joplin.
    Eventually the plan is for I-49 to follow Missouri 171 and Missouri 249 before heading south into Newton County, but an interchange where traffic doesn’t have to stop is required to make that designation happen.
    The area around the current Central Avenue interchange is heavily developed, making building a free-flowing interchange at that spot complicated at best.
    "We've been trying to push for the interchange at Highway 96 and Central Avenue all along," Short said. "There have been other locations discussed, but our goal is to keep it as close to Carthage as possible."
    Other proposals in Carthage calls for the state to help Carthage widen Baker Avenue from Macon to Fairview, adding sidewalks and bicycle paths to the street, and replacing the Highway 96 railroad bridge on the east side of Carthage.
    Other projects in Jasper County include widening Missouri 171 from Fir Road in Carl Junction to the Kansas state line and adding passing lanes in spots; studying how to rebuild Interstate 44, which is reaching the end of its life span; and more than a dozen resurfacing projects throughout the county.
    According to MoDOT, on Aug. 5, Missouri voters will decide on Constitutional Amendment 7, a ballot measure to temporarily raise Missouri's sales tax by ¾ of a cent.
    All proceeds from the tax would go toward needed transportation improvements across the state. The amendment's provisions include the creation of a project list prior to the election so Missourians can see what their tax dollars would fund.
    Page 2 of 2 - "Through this process, it has been clear that we need funding for transportation in our region, even just to maintain our current roads and bridges," said Jason Ray, Community and Regional Planner and Transportation Specialist with the Harry S Truman Coordinating Council. "Many of the projects identified will generate significant economic development in our region that will preserve jobs we have and attract new business and industry. Being able to take care of the current system will allow our employers to continue the status quo of their operations. New projects that will enhance and improve our current system will allow them to grow and operate more efficiently."
    The public is invited to attend the meetings at any time during the advertised hours to speak to regional planning partners and MoDOT representatives. No formal presentations will be made.
    For more information, call MoDOT at 417-895-7600 or visit modot.org/southwest.
    Follow MoDOT's Southwest District:
    Facebook: MoDOT.Southwest
    Twitter: MoDOT_Southwest
    Google+: +MoDOT/Southwest District

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