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Route 60/Glenstone Avenue Interchange Reconstruction Will Create Better Access Through Springfield

by: Larry Bernstein
Hartman and Company, Inc., uses a Komatsu PC360 Excavator to move dirt on a section of Route 60 in Springfield, Missouri.
Hartman and Company, Inc., uses a Komatsu PC360 Excavator to move dirt on a section of Route 60 in Springfield, Missouri.
Located in southwestern Missouri, Springfield has a population of nearly 170,000. The city, which is known for its big city attractions, draws people from the smaller towns in the area. The James River Freeway, or US Route 60, is located southwest of the city and is the main thoroughfare into the western part of the city. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is working on the Route 60/Glenstone Avenue Interchange in the area that will improve the travels to and from the city via the James River Freeway.

The current average daily traffic count on the James River Freeway is 80,000 vehicles and it is projected to rise to 100,000 vehicles by the year 2040. The primary reason for the jump in ADT is the growth the city is experiencing. Besides being a major thoroughfare, this part of the route is home to many businesses and two hospitals.

The project goals are straightforward – minimize congestion, allow for more free movement, improve access, and reduce or eliminate accidents. “This project is a stepping stone to the future,” says Brad Gripka, a MoDOT Resident Engineer. In the future, MoDOT intends to widen the James River Freeway further to the west.

Expanding the Freeway
There are multiple elements to the project. These include adding a traveling lane on the James River Freeway, so it will become a six-lane route. The additional lane will stretch over a 2.5-mile portion of the freeway. “Besides adding capacity, we expect that the designated turning lane will eliminate some of the weaving, make merging easier, and ultimately be safer,” Gripka says.

Other elements of the project include installing a barrier wall along the James River Freeway, widening a westbound ramp, replacing deteriorating pavement for half a mile, consolidating two eastbound ramps, and moving them down the road half a mile. The final element of the project is the construction of a roundabout.

Site Challenges
While the team is working 24 hours a day on the project, most of the work is done at night since this is the only time they are allowed to close lanes. This is because of the high traffic levels on the road. There are traffic barriers along the road and lane widths are restricted to 10 feet so the team has room to work.

Another challenge related to the high capacity is that the team can only work on 1-mile sections at time as specific in the traffic control plans. The project was designed to only allow the temporary barrier wall to be installed in 1-mile increments in both directions to limit the levels of traffic impact on the freeway.

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Fortunately, the weather this past year held up and the team was able to work through December. This was particularly important since the contractor decided to use asphalt for the roads, and it can’t be applied during the winter months

The prime contractor for the project is Springfield-based Hartman and Company, Inc. They were selected based on being the lowest bidder. Hartman has worked with MoDOT many times, including on major projects such as interchanges.

“We have weekly meetings and Hartman takes a team approach to work through challenges,” Gripka says. “They partner very well, can deliver on time and budget, have a good team approach, and hire locally – which helps the economy.”

Good Weather and Communication Saves the Schedule
Construction began in May 2021 and it is expected to complete in this spring. The project is on schedule. Besides the good weather into December, Gripka also credits Hartman for their strong communication and being open to new ideas.

The budget for the project is $16 million. The state is kicking in $3 million, and the federal government is picking up the rest. Currently, the project is slightly over budget. However, Gripka is hopeful that the cost overruns can be offset by cost savings as the project moves forward.

Gripka points to some issues with the barrier wall redesign as the reason for the project being over budget. “During the winter months, we pulled off the steel barrier wall and will put it back up in the spring. We did this based on safety concerns as it is challenging to remove snow when they are set up."

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Regarding the traffic barriers, they came in 50-foot sections. Rather than being the standard steel barriers, they were lightweight. “They worked well for us as it was easy to pick them up and quickly move them down the road,” Gripka says. “They have allowed traffic to flow smoothly.”

When MoDOT completes the Route 60/Glenstone Avenue Interchange project, commuters will experience less congestion, fewer accidents, and better access. Those coming to Springfield to enjoy all the city has to offer will also appreciate the easier commute.

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