Springfield transportation organizations finalizing federal grant application for I-44 projects

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 8:10 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield transportation leaders have a list of projects along I-44 they are trying to nail down.

Right now, those groups are finalizing an application for about $70-million in federal money. The Ozarks Transportation Organization is partnering up with MoDOT, the City of Springfield and Greene County for a 2022 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant to fix I-44.

The goal of the application is to get funding to fix capacity issues on I-44. One of the most problematic spots is at the Kansas Expressway and I-44 interchange. The daily traffic buildup is a major nuisance to many drivers. The diverging diamond has been around since 2009.

“What we’ve seen is a changing traffic pattern over time,” said Ozarks Transportation Organization Executive Director Sara Fields. “So once upon a time the primary movement was moving on to I-44 from Kansas, and now it’s just about equal that people are staying on Kansas through the interchange going south into Springfield. That change in traffic was not fully anticipated.”

Local transportation leaders say that buildup can sometimes cost drivers an additional 10 to 20 minutes.

“We’ve heard a lot about how people are avoiding the interchange all together, taking other routes,” Fields said. “[This] leads us to believe that, you know, if we could get all of this moving, we could get more people onto I-44 and out of the neighborhoods and out of the back roads.”

Revamping the interchange is a major goal, but the increase in traffic on I-44 itself also needs attention. That’s why local transportation leaders say widening lanes is also very important.

“It’s not only the sheer number of cars, it’s the amount of freight that’s going up and the value of freight,” Fields said. “And so as trucks take more and more of that capacity, we really would like to add an additional lane to the inside to accommodate that freight movement.”

MoDOT already has partial funding for that project between Glenstone and 65. Aging bridges like the one over National Avenue also need attention as well.

“They’re getting to the point where they’re over 50 years old, and just generally need to come down and have a whole new structure built,” Fields said.

Six bridges would be replaced, including the ones above National, Broadway and Grant Avenue. All of them are “weight restricted

The funding would also cover a few pedestrian safety projects, primarily taking care of ADA sidewalk improvements and lighting issues underneath bridges.

“One of the top safety things is making it safer for pedestrians, trying to avoid some of those crashes on I-44, resulting from backups onto I-44,” Fields said. “We’re looking at Farm Road 94 up north of North Springfield where we have people crossing across and getting hit and fatalities up there. So we’re trying to mostly address those three factors.”

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