|MoDOT, state and local dignitaries cut the ribbon officially dedicating the new dual-lane roundabout at Route 171/43 in the Village of Airport Drive near Joplin on Sept. 30. (Photo/David Mitchell)
A ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the new dual-lane roundabout at Route 171/43 in the Village of Airport Drive near Joplin Tuesday, Sept. 30.
Construction of the $3.3 million project was completed the week of Aug. 18.
The roundabout replaced a traditional, signalized four-way intersection at one of the busiest locations in the area, known as Stone’s Corner. Prior to the start of the project, traffic often backed up during morning and afternoon rush hours for as much as five cycles of the signals.
“It has eliminated congestion as we knew it at Stone’s Corner,” said Assistant District Engineer Dan Salisbury. “In addition, two new businesses are going in at this location which adds to the economy of the Village of Airport Drive.”
The Stone’s Corner roundabout handles more traffic than any other dual-lane roundabout in the Southwest District. An average of 29,000 cars pass through the intersection every day. That number is projected to increase to 35,000 by 2034.
“The finished product turned out very well,” said Joplin Intermediate Construction Inspector Ryan Dingman.
The decision to convert the Stone’s Corner intersection into a two-lane roundabout was controversial in the community.
|Assistant District Engineer Dan Salisbury talks to local reporters about the importance of the new roundabout. (Photo/David Mitchell)
Dingman said from the beginning, people he heard from either loved it or hated it.
Now that construction is complete and the new configuration is open to traffic, opinions seem to be softening.
“I do hear more positive than negative,” said Dingman.
Mark Rains is the Chair Pro Tem of the Airport Drive Board of Trustees. He was skeptical about the idea of a roundabout at first.
But, he said, once he saw the final plans, “I was on board 100 percent.”
“It’s working great,” said Rains. “MoDOT did a great job. It went very smoothly.”
“I told a group of 90 people whom we met with right before construction started that I would come back and ‘face the music’ if it didn’t work,” added Salisbury. “Several called at the completion of the project and said it would not be necessary. They were elated.”
This is among the last major projects in the district until MoDOT’s funding issues are addressed. Bids on a new interchange on I-44 near Joplin’s Crossroads Business and Distribution Park await approval by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission at its meeting in October.