After almost four months of construction, MoDOT says its improvement project along Highway 61 in Palmyra is completed. But is it safer?
There were many changes to three intersections along the stretch of HIGHWAY in Palmyra, and the most noticeable is this blockade on Ross Street. Drivers used to be able to turn left, but that's no longer an option. Drivers said they do feel safer with the new changes.
"I feel more safe in the aspect of the longer turn lanes at the other intersections to get into the truck stop and get into the area down there. If you get backed up, you're not sticking out into the highway anymore," said Driver Jim Smashey.
While the new layout might be something drivers like Smashey have to get used to, he does feel safer than before the changes. He said before there were some serious accidents.
"It's been a long time ago, but I know there were a couple fatalities at this intersection," he said.
But there's more changes than what happened on the intersection of Ross and 61. Jeff Wilson who drives this highway everyday believes the extension is the safest part in the project.
"Well probably the safest thing they've done now is they've added an acceleration lane going South which really helps where they can move the traffic over a lot so the guys can pull out with a Semi and they don't have to get into the normal traffic lanes," said Wilson.
Numerous changes have been made to the stretch of highway whether it be at Main Cross, Ross, or Thompson Streets. MoDOT Area Engineer Brian Haeffner tells me he's not naive to think this will eliminate all accidents on the highway, so drivers still need to be careful.
"The main reason we did this was to eliminate some of those right angle collisions. There still could be crashes at the intersections. We're trying to reduce the severity of those crashes," Haeffner said.
Also, the speed limit along 61 just north of Palmyra will be reduced this week to 55 miles per hour approaching the city. That starts near the Missouri 168 interchange just north of Main Cross Street.
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