Improvements to make Highway 160 in Greene Co coming next summer

GREENE COUNTY, Mo. Monday night 16 year-old McKenzie Rauch died when her car crossed the center line of Highway 160 and hit an S-U-V head on.

The other driver was seriously hurt.

Tuesday morning one person suffered minor injuries in another crash there involving a car and an SUV.

Some consider Highway 160 to be a dangerous stretch of roadway that's seen fatal crashes before.

We checked in with Missouri Department of Transportation to find out where they're at with the plans to make the drive between Springfield and Willard safer.

"It can be a nightmare at times," said Rhonda Woodruff.

She takes Highway 160 back and forth between Springfield and Willard several times a week.

Making improvements to this corridor is part of the highway department's five year plan for our region.

"We're finishing up the plans. It will be ready to go next summer," said MoDOT Project Manager, Don Saiko.

The road will be widened to allow two lanes of traffic in each direction. Merging lane for vehicles turning onto the highway will also be added.

"There's safety and there's also traffic flow. We want to get people through there without having the congestion. That's the biggest thing. Then there's safety. Try to make it as safe as possible," said Saiko.

Another safety feature is roundabouts. There will be a few along the highway to better control the flow of traffic.

"That's what we're doing with the roundabouts. We're putting those in because they've been shown to be safer than the signals," he said.

Drivers like Woodruff have mixed feelings about what's planned for Highway 160.

"I like the idea of them widening so that we can have the slower traffic in one lane and the faster traffic in the other, especially with the agricultural vehicles and the dump trucks being around. As far as the roundabouts, I think that would cause more congestion and more trouble," she said.

Though she understands that something has to be done.

"Can't stop the progress. It's going to happen one way or another," she said.

Total cost for this project is just over $18.6 million.

The project is scheduled to start next summer and finish by the end of 2020.