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.
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.
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.
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.”
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."
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.