POLK COUNTY, Mo. As more people move into the Ozarks, the need for new and improved roads keeps growing.
Changes to one major highway doesn't seem to be enough.
The intersection of Highways Y and Highway U at Highway 13, just south of Bolivar, was found to be one of the most dangerous by Missouri Department of Transportation. There were some safety improvements made. However, local and state leaders are trying find other ways to make it safer."
"I know that some people felt like why MoDot didn’t do more than just signs. If you can get people's attention at an intersection, we have had great success," says Assistant District Engineer, Andy Mueller.
Various traffic signs with different warnings for drivers litter the intersection.
Mueller says, "We know that that's not the ultimate solution for that intersection but we just felt like this is something we can do immediately that does not cost a lot. Why not try it out?"
"Year by year, I can tell you traffic has been increasing, pretty much," says Nash Patel.
He manages the gas station nearby.
"We heard a couple wrecks. It was pretty bad. There was an older guy, he stopped at that sign. He tried to cross the traffic but he couldn't make it," he explains.
MoDOT is looking at an extension project that could consist of lane improvements and traffic lights to keep the flow of vehicles moving safely.
"We do have safety funds that do become available each year, from different sources, some of them federal and we're willing to consider putting some of that funding into the project," says Mueller.
Partnering with local governments will help the project move along.
"We believe that the city is interested in working with us to leverage that money to get the best improvement we can," he says.
Patel has a suggestion that has immediate results and wouldn't cost a dime.
"Put your phone down. Just focus on the highway. Just wait. If you wait two or three minutes longer it's still better than your life," he says.
Officials are just in the beginning stages of looking at what could improve safety at the intersection.
There's no time frame on when that could happen.