BOLIVAR, Mo. (KSPR) - One of the busiest roads leading to and from Springfield is being called one of the most dangerous.
The Missouri Department of Transportation is trying to make high-crash intersections along Missouri 13 between Clinton and Springfield safer for drivers. It's picked out 25 problem areas, and set aside $5 million to spend on the project.
At a public hearing in Bolivar on Thursday,MoDOT engineers visited with people who live in the area to talk about problem areas in Polk County, and some possible solutions.
Bolivar resident Gary Urich says he’s concerned about Missouri 13 at Highways U/Y in south Bolivar.
“Oh man. Just go out there on a busy time. There are so many cars coming from so many different ways," he said.
Karon Reaves and her husband, Jack, live near that same intersection. She says it seems like someone is always getting hurt there.
“I’d like to see a light in there,” she said, “just because there’s been 46 accidents there in the last couple years.”
Mark Smith owns Smith’s Restaurant, right off Missouri 13 at Highway U.
“We’re very concerned about the employees, the businesses, the future of the area,” he said, “The wrong changes will kill the businesses. The right changes would be safe for people traveling down the road, plus would be good for businesses to prosper from.”
Smith hopes for a stop light to slow down traffic.
“Red-green stoplight would be wonderful for everybody, it’s the safest thing to do," he said.
MoDOT seems to have a different idea. MoDOT Engineer Andy Mueller says traffic lights aren’t as safe as you might think.
“A traffic signal, it may surprise a lot of people, does not necessarily result in a reduction of crashes. It can change the type from right-angle collisions to rear-end collisions,” said Mueller.
He says MoDOT is considering a “J-turn” for the intersection near Smith’s Restaurant, and other problem areas along Missouri 13 between Springfield and Clinton. A busy intersection next to the cheese store in Osceola already has one.
Look for a link to MoDOT’s J-turn video in the sidebar.
“We believe it is one solution that could have a meaningful impact,” Mueller said.
He says they have to do something about the risky intersections. From 2011 to 2015, nearly 300 wrecks were along Missouri 13 between Springfield and Clinton.
Smith says a J-turn isn’t the answer for his section of highway, south of Bolivar.
“I understand with lower traffic areas, they do work, and they’re probably great. But talk to somebody with a trailer and they’ll tell you they hate them,” he said.
While MoDOT continues to meet with people who drive Missouri 13, some say the answer might be better education.
“A lot of people stop short,” said Jack Reaves, “And they’ve got another half of a mile before they really have to get on the highway.”
“The highway’s not at fault. It’s driver error. If they would pay attention, put the cell phones down, I think we need to focus more on that than anything,” said Smith.
MoDOT is still accepting public comments. Look for the link to that website in the sidebar.
Mueller says $5 million isn’t enough to improve all 25 problem areas, so they’re going to have to pick a few intersections to invest in. When it comes to construction for this project, you won’t see anything happen until the summer of 2018.