Friday, February 17, 2012

What's In A Name? US 71 to Become I-49

MoDOT is preparing for final projects in the transformation of U.S. Route 71 from national highway to interstate standards. Why?

The change will increase economic opportunities for Missouri and enhance the safety of travelers.

When businesses consider locating in Missouri, one of the first factors they consider is access to quality transportation. Preference is given to locations that are near to interstate highways. The I-49 designation will ensure this factor is not an obstacle for the communities along the corridor between Kansas City and Joplin. Plus, the I-49 designation benefits Kansas City’s development as an “inland port” for the flow of freight throughout the country.

Traffic on the US 71 corridor between Kansas City and Joplin already consists of 30 percent trucks. The route connects Kansas City's interstates with Interstate 44. As freight volumes are expected to increase, we believe upgrading U.S. 71 to interstate standards makes sense.

Future projects in Arkansas are expected to complete I-49's path from New Orleans to Kansas City, making road transport of freight to and from the Port of New Orleans more efficient. This has exciting implications.

In 2014, the expansion of the Panama Canal will be complete. Super container ships that are now unable to squeeze through the canal will be able to bring their cargo into the Port of New Orleans. The drive from New Orleans to Kansas City is shorter than the drive from the west coast ports, so the cost to bring goods to the midwest should fall. That's good news for consumers.

The transformation is more than just a name change. In order to be classified as an interstate, a route must meet stringent requirements. U.S. 71 largely met the requirements from Kansas City to Missouri's southern border. However, because no at-grade intersections are allowed on an interstate, several interchanges were either built or are underway. Intersections with ramps and overpasses are much safer than those that occur at-grade (without overpasses or underpasses). They virtually eliminate T-bone-type crashes.

We believe the investment made to transform U.S. 71 into Interstate 49 will pay off both economically and in safety for Missourians in decades to come.

14 comments:

mike99 said...

Will US 36 ever become I 72?

MoDOT said...

Good question. Right now, there are no plans to convert US 36 to Interstate standards. To make it happen, at-grade intersections would need to be replaced with over/underpasses and outer roads must be built. It is a "someday, maybe, when we have the budget" idea. It is fun to think about!

Anonymous said...

Why not Mo 13 from Kansas City to Springfield? That seems like a more commerce-related route that Joplin.

Allan said...

Hwy 63 should be made an interstate
has anyone thought of that.

Timothy Osburn said...

Have all grade crossings been upgraded or shut off? That is a criteria for an interstate, is it not? Also, sad to think that the designation ends at Grandview. If the grade crossings (3) along the Bruce Watkins parkway were eliminated, it could be done.

Anonymous said...

Heard last year was that 71 / 49 will connect to 249. Is this true?

MoDOT said...

Lots of great questions!

Why not Mo 13? We performed a study and found that US 71 carries much more freight traffic along it's Missouri length than 13.

Has anyone thought about US 63 as an interstate?
It seems like a logical spur-interstate route from I-70. But there are no plans to convert the route. It's another "Someday, maybe, when the funding exists" idea.

Timothy, you are correct. At grade crossings are not allowed on interstates. A handful of at-grade crossings remain on US 71 between the state line and Bruce Watkins in Kansas City. Replacement of all of those crossings with under/overpass interchanges are either planned or underway.

There are no plans to do anything with Mo. 249 in regard to the I-49 conversion.

Anonymous said...

Are there future plans to upgrade US71 aka Bruce R Watkins to I-49?
This would bring needed economic benefit to the area and eliminate 3 very dangerous and deadly intersections.

Anonymous said...

So are you saying that the Fed's have gotten the previous 1970's court order that was in place from a Jackson County property owner in that area reversed and the 3 stop lights will be replaced with over passes? If so, will this happen before the federal employees at bannister move downtown in 2014?

MoDOT said...

The Interstate 49 designation does not include the Bruce Watkins Parkway. The intersections there are not included in the current list of those to be converted to over/underpass interchanges.

Anonymous said...

With Bruce Watkins NOT being converted to a freeway, you thought the 3 useless traffic lights were a pain, which btw cause backups of about 1 mile from the first sb traffic light in pm rush hour and a 2 mile back up for the first NB light in the am wait until the new I-49 begins dumping more out of town traffic onto Bruce Watkins. Maybe then the people who are left in the slew of abandoned houses that surround the terrible 3 (traffic lights) will remove the court order.

Justin Hsu said...
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Justin Hsu said...
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Justin Hsu said...

You know, I wish those 3 stoplights at Bruce Watkins Drive are removed by now. I wish the Bruce Watkins Drive is part of I-49 because those 3 stoplights are a pain to go through when going south to go to work and it's dangerous too! The people who live around those stoplights are going to regret keeping those stoplights because these intersections are in the Top 10 for making accidents. People need to wake up and realize that converting Bruce Watkins to I-49 IS A MUST!!!