Missouri Route 19 project to improve safety at Mark Twain High School

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:49 PM CDT
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CENTER, Mo. (WGEM) - Drivers will need to use extra caution when traveling Missouri Route 19 for the next few months, as a large road improvement project begins.

The $11.4 million project involves resurfacing the route from New London to just north of Laddonia and the addition of a left turning lane in front of Mark Twain High School.

Resident Engineer Martin Lincoln with the Missouri Department of Transportation said the project will occur in phases, with limited night work possible.

“Also, we will be doing a little bit of night work, like two nights in the town of Center itself at the four way stop. There’s a concrete overlay section right there that it’s served its purpose. Its life cycle is over,” Lincoln said.

Lincoln said pilot cars will be used with the road down to one lane later in the spring during the resurfacing phase.

In the meantime, he said drivers can expect one lane travel and flaggers in front of Mark Twain High School as the new turning lane is paved.

Lincoln said the turn lane will help get cars out of traffic as they are heading to the school from the East.

Mark Twain High School principal Deacon Windsor agreed, saying the extra lane be a big step in reducing the risk that parents, staff and students face when entering and exiting the school.

“Highway 19 has just only gotten faster and more traffic. And you come to a complete stop here... letting students and buses and patrons out... it’s always been a concern. We’ve had our share of fender-benders and close calls,” Windsor said.

He urges the community to have patience while the project continues.

“This is an inconvenience that we think will result in progress. We all know school safety is job one. We have a large group of student drivers, we run a huge amount of routes and we have a lot of parents that bring their kids to school and pick them up,” Windsor said. “We appreciate their patience, and we’re going to have some really cool safe progress by this summer or before next school year.”

He said he was thankful for the support of the school board, the superintendent, community members and the Missouri Department of Transportation for getting this project going.

Weather permitting, the turn lane should be finished within the next couple of months. The larger resurfacing project will likely continue into the summer.

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