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Missouri will start I-70 expansion work in July, widening highway to 3 lanes each way

Construction workers haul limestone quarried from the river bluff to the construction site of a new Interstate 70 Missouri River bridge connecting Boone and Cooper counties.
Don Shrubshell
Columbia Daily Tribune
Construction workers haul limestone quarried from the river bluff to the construction site of a new Interstate 70 Missouri River bridge connecting Boone and Cooper counties.

The construction project is carved up into segments. The first section tackled will be a 20-mile stretch in mid-Missouri between Columbia and Kingdom City.

Construction to expand Interstate 70 to three lanes in each direction across Missouri is slated to begin in early July.

Gov. Mike Parson, lawmakers and other officials gathered in Columbia on Thursday to celebrate the beginning of the expansion project.

“I-70 has been talked about for decades. Decades. And today, all of us that are here are going to get to see a dream, a reality come true,” Parson said.

Instead of tackling the expansion all at once, the project is broken up into six segments.

The first is a 20-mile stretch between Columbia and Kingdom City. The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission awarded St. Charles-based Millstone Weber the contract for that section in February.

“It's a multiyear job. It's going to take some time. So please have some patience with us,” said Bob Leingang, executive vice president of Millstone Weber. “Slow down, buckle up, put your phone down. Can't say that enough. Safety's our most important thing out here.”

That particular segment will not go through Columbia in its entirety but does include redoing the I-70-Highway 63 interchange.

Eric Kopinski, director of MODOT’s Improve I-70 program, said that will include demolishing the bridge of the interchange, with it being closed four or five months.

"While not ideal to close a bridge for duration, I think we're hearing pretty loud from the public that yeah, if you're going to close it, get in there quick and rebuild it to a really high quality,” Kopinski said.

Kopinski said while there has already been some work done on the project, things will begin to intensify after the July 4 weekend.

“Very quickly, you'll start to see more of the bulldozers and other types of construction equipment that gets some of the public excited or nervous, but more importantly, we're ready to go,” Kopinski said.

Funding for the project, which is estimated to cost around $2.8 billion, was approved by Parson and the Missouri legislature last session. Construction from start to finish is anticipated to last approximately seven years.

Although Parson’s tenure as governor ends at the end of this year, he said the funding for this project is secure, no matter who the governor will be in the future.

“The way we did this plan, the way we've kept the money that we have, those are currently locked in,” Parson said.

For the Columbia-Kingdom City segment, construction is predicted to conclude at the end of 2027. With a few exceptions, two lanes of traffic are expected to be open while construction occurs.

The stretch between Wentzville and Warrenton is one of the next segments expected to be tackled.

Kopinski said that contract is scheduled to be awarded in November, along with more information on the construction timeline. Construction is likely to start sometime next year.

Copyright 2024 St. Louis Public Radio

Sarah Kellogg is St. Louis Public Radio’s Statehouse and Politics Reporter, taking on the position in August 2021. Sarah is from the St. Louis area and even served as a newsroom intern for St. Louis Public Radio back in 2015.
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