MoDOT to improve Highway 63 intersections, but drivers have doubts

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ASHLAND - Thirty thousand drivers travel Highway 63 everyday in Missouri and MoDOT is proposing improvements to make the road safer.

MoDOT Central District is proposing safety improvements to four intersections between Route H north of Ashland and Route 54 near Jefferson City. MoDOT said they chose these intersections because of past crashes at these intersections.

The proposed intersections for safety improvements include:

  • Minor Hill/Angel Lane
  • New Salem/Martin Lane
  • Loy Martin Road
  • Renz Farm Road
  • Budget permitting, Claysville Road and/or Westbrook Drive

MoDOT Central District Project Manager Melissa Wilbers said MoDOT wants to reduce right angle collisions at these intersections because they prove to be the most fatal crashes. 

"From 2013 to 2017, there have been 86 crashes on the corridor and at these intersections specifically," Wilbers said.

The proposed safety improvements include acceleration lanes, deceleration lanes and j-turns, according to MoDOT.

One driver doesn't think they are doing enough to improve safety at her intersection. Sharon Burnett lives off Mt. Pleasant Road near the Westbrook Drive intersection. At this intersection MoDOT is proposing one acceleration lane.

"What they're proposing here doesn't solve any of the problems at all," Burnett said.

Burnett believes the intersection needs more acceleration lanes. She is concerned because she has seen crashes at the intersection and one involved her son.

"I had a son that was pulling out here and he was rear-ended and I have seen several crashes that end up here, its a deep valley down there and I have seen several crashes there," Burnett said.

Ashland resident and mayoral candidate Richard Sullivan said he has heard other concerns about the proposed improvements. One of the concerns is improved travel time because of the proposals to remove crossovers at intersections.

"I think there's a lot of concerns not only from citizens of Ashland but also we have a lot of farmers here and people who live along the corridors," Sullivan said. "Ashland is a commuter city and people commute to either Jefferson City or Columbia so if you don't live right in town or near an overpass this is going to impact you in someway whether you travel back south whether you travel back north especially when you talk about closing the crossovers at Ashland exit all the up to Route H."

MoDOT said they are open to receiving feedback about driver's concerns. Wilbers said they have done extensive research on the corridor and their overall goal is to improve safety with these changes.

"We have done several analyses, looked over crash data and traffic statistics and we had a focus group, Wilbers said. "Met 3 times with community members to look at the intersections, did a roadway safety assessment, done a lot of background data analyses on the corridor and we're just looking to make the corridor safer."

The project is planned to begin in 2021. The improvements will cost $5 million.