The most traveled route used to access Lake of the Ozarks during its busy summer season will have construction bottlenecks in mid-Missouri’s Jefferson City this year.
Pavement resurfacing and bridgework will close a lane of traffic on U.S. Highway 54 in both the east and westbound directions between mid-May to early August.
Six bridges will be rehabilitated including the ramp bridge that carries eastbound U.S. 50 to eastbound U.S. 54.
One lane of eastbound U.S. 54 will be closed 24-hours a day for a distance of under one mile within Jefferson City limits from early May until work is completed in mid-June. However, both lanes of traffic will be open during the busy Memorial Day weekend.
One lane of westbound U.S. 54 will be closed around-the-clock in the same portion of the highway between July 9th and August 6th for the same bridge repairs.
Various on and off ramps will be closed to local traffic in both directions during the construction periods.
Rehabilitation work on ramp bridges between U.S. 54 and U.S. 50 will result in closures from June 11th through June 25th. The detour route for all of those closures will be Business Route 50 (Missouri Boulevard).
Randy Aulbur, Construction and Materials Engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), says the highway construction has to be done during the busy summer travel months because of weather requirements.
“The asphalt work itself, you need temperatures like we’re going to have during the summer months for that to be successful,” said Aulber. “Since we’re going to be active with the asphalt work, we kinda role that bridge work in alongside it.”
MoDOT says motorists should expect congestion on U.S. 54 during peak travel times, especially on Friday evenings and Sundays when movement to and from Lake of the Ozarks is most pronounced.
During 2016 construction on the Missouri River Bridge (U.S. 54/U.S. 63) in which six lanes were reduced to four, traffic routinely started backing up as early as the noon hour on Sundays with traffic leaving the lake area.
Visitors from the population centers of St. Louis and Kansas City typically travel to the lake on the route that travels through Jefferson City.
Some residents from the St. Louis area will also access Lake of the Ozarks from the south using I-44 to Lebanon and then travel north on State Route 5. Residents from the Kansas City area can use U.S. 50 to Jefferson City and avoid the construction on U.S. 54 by taking the State Route 179 loop around the city.
The bridges on U.S. 54 in Jefferson City that’ll see construction work this year were built in 1965. MoDOT’s Aulbur says they’re not being rebuilt, but are part of a rehabilitation project which typically happens every 25-to-30 years on highway bridges.
“For these particular structures, the substructure and the foundations of the bridge itself are still in good enough condition,” Aulbur said. “And we’re not looking to expand the structure which would maybe bring into that other factor as to why you might look for a replacement.”
The pavement of the stretch of roadway was last resurfaced in 2008.
Aulbur also says the work in Jefferson City which is being done on several bridges at the same time reflects a trend for MoDOT resulting from a more economical bidding process with contractors.
“Definitely on these major thoroughfares where we can see bidding benefit by lumping more work together and creating a better bidding atmosphere, I think you’re definitely going to see that we’re trying to capitalize when that potential is there for that,” said Aulbur.
The overall U.S. 54 project in Jefferson City will start on May 7th and include resurfacing, pavement repair, shoulder repair, and guardrail upgrades. After the bridge work is complete, there will be nightly lane closures on Route 54 and the adjacent ramps for pavement resurfacing work. The nightly hours are from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and the work is scheduled to be complete by November 1.
The stretch of roadway sees average daily traffic of 28,987 vehicles. The overall cost of the project is $3,484,383.47.