Route WW Closure Causes Headaches For Drivers
COLUMBIA - Drivers searched for routes to get out on Tuesday as the construction on Route WW got underway. MoDOT is replacing the nearly 50-year-old bridge over Grindstone Creek as part of its Safe and Sound bridge program. Route WW is closed from about the American Legion Park to the entrance of the El Chaparral neighborhood, blocking the quickest way for drivers to get there.
"We followed the detour signs, which we're thinking just a little jog down the road, but no it's 10 miles down the interstate, 10 miles back toward Columbia, I mean it's just ridiculous," said driver Mary Ann Lusebrink.
The goal of the project is to make the bridge longer and also wider by about 2 to 4 feet. MoDOT District 5 Coordinator Susan Ball said the bridge received a low rating putting it on the list for replacement.
"We're trying to improve the ones with the lesser ratings," Ball said. "It's going to be closed for 54 days, which figures it should be back open on April 15th."
MoDOT suggests drivers take an alternate route that leads them to I-70 near Millersburg to get back to Route WW. The detour adds extra travel time compared to the normal route.
"It adds about 20 minutes," said Synder Engineering employee Austin Dowell. Dowell's office is located behind Casey's General Store at the front of El Chaparral. "I have to get up about 30 or 40 minutes earlier to get here everyday."
Drivers had drawn maps in hand and even stopped to ask for directions. Some took the back roads instead of MoDOT's suggested detour, but on that route there's another bridge in question.
Drivers complained about the bridge on Rolling Hills Road. It has reinforcement rods exposed on the sides along with cracked concrete. However, Stan Shawver, director of resource management for Boone County Public Works, said the bridge is regularly inspected and safe as long as drivers follow the 10 ton weight limit.
The detours also mean more travel time for emergency responders.
"We talked to emergency personnel a month ago to give them warning so they can rearrange people or have different people cover this area," Ball said. "They had time to make arrangements amongst themselves."
While drivers figure out their paths for the next two months, Ball said she hopes the traveling public remains patient.