Stretch of Highway 14 between Ozark and Ava closed until August

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Mo. A six-mile stretch of Highway 14 that was closed this week between Ozark and Ava handles on-average over 2,000 cars per-day.

But it's only a small portion of that road, about 200-feet, that's actually causing the closure as heavy rains led to the pavement breaking apart and sliding down the side of a hill.

It was brought on by the recent heavy rains.

"We've got a large crack in the pavement that's the failure plane of the slide we encountered," explained MoDOT Construction and Materials Engineer Kevin Plott, pointing to a fissure in the road that runs to the edge where there are a series of large potholes that make the west-bound lane impassible. "Because of the soil-type and the additional moisture and water we've had lately this whole section of hillside is actually sliding towards the bottom of the hill to a spot where it's kinda self-stabilizing. So we're trying to find that stabilization point and bring it back up and stabilize the whole area so we can put no pavement across the top of it."

"We're going to have to purchase some right-of-way to fix this," added MoDOT Southeast Region spokesperson Elquin Auala. "So if right-of-way and environmental come through we can have a contractor onboard in June and hopefully open it up by August."

A group of about 15 MoDOT engineers converged on the scene Thursday to try and figure out a more permanent solution to the problem as this is not the first time this section of road has had a slide-off.

"It happened here about five years-ago on a smaller scale," Auala said. "We came in with maintenance forces and dug it out about 20-feet. We put big rocks out (along the edge of the drop-off) to try and keep it from falling anymore."

"That's our whole goal with this project is to try to keep it from happening again," Plott added.

One lane of the highway at the slide-off area is not damaged, but MoDOT officials say it's too dangerous to open up to traffic.

"We're afraid to let anybody on here because we don't know what it's going to do," Auala said. "It's still falling. When the contractors go to work we'll have to shut it down anyway so for safety reasons we don't want anybody on the road."

So until repairs are made, MoDOT is suggesting drivers take a detour that from Ava includes Highway 5 to Highway 76 and then turning north on O, which for people like Clifford Woolman, who lives on the Ozark side of the closure, means a lot longer trip.

"It's 22 miles extra when we go to Ava and back," he said.

Plus it will also affect his pocketbook.

"I was gonna have a yard sale the second weekend of June but there's not any traffic anymore so I guess I don't have that anymore either. So it's very inconvenient for me."

An inconvenience for a lot of people over the next few months.

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