Get ready for return to lower speed limits and traffic delays on James River Freeway starting next week

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 6:37 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Just when you were getting used to a return to the 60 mph speed limit and steady moving traffic on Springfield’s James River Freeway....well, here comes the bad news....and some good news as to when it will be done.

So it was last March when MoDOT started working to resurface and add an extra lane to each side of the James River Freeway from National Avenue to the Highway 65 interchange.

Almost 70,000 cars travel that stretch both ways every day so to say it’s been a major inconvenience for a lot of area commuters is an understatement.

And while it seems like it’s gone on forever, MoDOT did halt the project over the winter months. But just as drivers got used to the good news of no delays and speed limits increasing from 50 mph back to 60 mph comes the arrival of spring and the resumption of more roadwork.

If it’s any consolation though that bad news also comes with some good news. This will be the last phase of the $13.6 million project and the next time they stop (other than weather delays) they’ll actually be finished.

Part of the project also involves a new roundabout along Glenstone Avenue that included relocating an entrance ramp onto the freeway from one side of Glenstone to the other.

That construction has also caused major bottlenecks and frustration but there is some good news there.

“The roundabout will open up hopefully by the end of this month or early April,” said MoDOT engineer Brad Gripka. “This will be done before the James River work because it will be tied in to that.”

But in comparing the Glenstone roundabout traffic snarls with the delays about to happen with the resumption of work on James River Freeway?

“This is nothing compared to what’s coming,” Gripka said. “Let’s just put it that way.”

Gripka wouldn’t speculate about whether the new freeway work will cause more traffic problems than the previous construction (speed limits will be back down to 50 mph) but we’ll start to find out next Tuesday and Wednesday nights (March 15-16) when crews begin moving over and reducing both the eastbound and westbound lanes from Glenstone to the Highway 65 flyover.

Crews will shift traffic toward the new inside shoulders in both directions so they can start different jobs on the outside lanes.

In the westbound lane of the freeway they’ll be extending the southbound exit lane off Highway 65 all the way to Glenstone so drivers won’t have to merge onto the freeway if they want to get off on Glenstone.

On the eastbound side of James River Freeway crews will be removing and replacing a rough section of pavement that’s the last part of the project to be resurfaced. This might be where the more severe gridlock could happen because that area is right where the expressway diverges three ways to Sedalia (Highway 65 north) Branson and Ozark (Highway 65 south) and Rogersville (U.S. 60 east).

“There will be congestion there with the evening rush hour traffic and that’s our concern,” Gripka explained. “So we do ask people to try and find those alternate routes. You do have Highway 160 (Campbell Avenue) going south to Nixa and you can go to Battlefield Road and go north-or-south on Highway 65 from there.”

And if we can hold out a little longer, the end is in sight.

“The first of June we want to be finished up with this whole entire project,” Gripka said. “We want to have it all striped and have all the lanes opened up by then. It’s going to be a huge improvement for the city of Springfield.”

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