Highway 63, I-70 interchange causes safety concerns

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COLUMBIA - A highway intersection that carries more than 50,000 local commuters everyday has caused some concern among its travelers. 

The Highway 63-Interstate 70 interchange joins two of the most frequently traveled roads in Missouri. 

Trey Olson, an employee at Mark's Mobile Glass, which sits right at the intersection of Hwy 63 and I-70, said he usually sees at least one accident a week, at either end of the interchange. 

"Last week I saw a wreck to the intersection to the right of us, and they happen pretty frequently," Olson said. 

The Missouri Department of Transportation's Engineer for the Boone County area, Mike Schupp, said its hard to avoid accidents at an intersection that large. 

"Anytime you have that much traffic going through you're going to have fender benders," he said. 

Schupp said there is a clear solution to the problem. MoDOT could create fly-over ramps to connect the various exits, so there would not be as many lights impeding traffic, he said. However, that solution could cost between $70 and $80 million. 

"It's such a big project, and right now we are just focused on maintaining our system with the funds we have," Schupp said. "There's no horizon in sight as far as getting funding for this project."

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol's website, about 50 crashes happened at the interchange each year from 2012 to 2015. This past year, there were only 14 reported crashes at the interchange. 

Schupp said this change could have to do with recent work done on the two roads. 

"The visibility of the connector is much better than it was in the past," Schupp said. "It used to be a dull polished concrete and it was hard to see the stripes, especially during wet or inclimate weather conditions."

Olson said more changes are needed to make the interchange easier to navigate.

"Just the amount of people congested into one small area," Olson said. "It's probably twice the amount of people as should be on that road."