The commute for Joplin area drivers through a notoriously congested intersection is already faster following the partial opening of a new dual lane roundabout at Route 171 and Route 43 in the Village of Airport Drive.
Following several weeks of construction to widen Demott Drive (Route 171) and Main Street (Route 43), the traffic signals were turned off and cones were set up to route traffic to the right – through a temporary single-lane configuration – on the evening of July 14.
|A flagger helps direct traffic through the roundabout at Route 171/43 near Joplin the evening of July 11. (Photo/Ryan Dingman)
The consensus is it’s working better than expected.
“It’s going really good,” said Joplin Resident Engineer Jim Conley. “I think traffic is moving better than when the signals were active.”
The construction inspector for the project, Ryan Dingman, agreed.
“Traffic is moving through it very well,” he said.
Traffic back ups during morning and evening rush hours have been greatly reduced.
During peak traffic times, it could take drivers nearly five minutes and several cycles of the traffic signal to get through the intersection.
APAC-Missouri crews are working to get the second lane opened to traffic at the intersection known as Stone’s Corner.
“We chose to maintain the single lane roundabout for an extra week instead of using temporary (lane) markers,” said Assistant to the Resident Engineer Henry Bevier. “We believe it will help reduce confusion traveling through the roundabout which will result in safer conditions.”
|Joplin Construction Inspector Ryan Dingman (right) talks with a contractor employee about construction of the Route 171/43 roundabout near Joplin. (Photo/David Mitchell)
The $2.6 million project was added to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) in the summer of 2011. That’s when MoDOT began working with local property owners to find a solution to congestion and safety problems at the intersection near the Joplin Regional Airport.
“It has been bad for at least 15 years,” said Assistant District Engineer Dan Salisbury. “We were constantly going out there tweaking signals, changing striping, but nothing worked.”
During meetings with property owners, MoDOT showed them aerial photos and listened to their ideas.
“We didn’t make everyone happy,” said Salisbury, “but this is where we ended up. We worked with businesses and residents to account for as many concerns as possible.”
The second lane of the roundabout is expected to be opened the week of July 28 when permanent striping is applied. After that, all that remains is to finish up landscaping and clean up.
Completion date for the project is August 28.
See video about navigating roundabouts here.