MoDOT to change the South Side intersection

Nov. 19 – The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to change the intersection of US 59 Highway and Alabama Street on the South Side to reduce traffic and accidents.

The intersection’s current design is “treacherous,” according to City Councilor Marty Novak. Alabama Street intersects with US 59 in a curve, requiring drivers to navigate at odd angles and multiple medians.

“It’s a pretty dangerous intersection to start with,” said Roger Polling, a local resident. “It’s getting busier and busier as we go.”

Instead of intersecting traffic from both directions on Alabama Street with US 59 at the same point, MoDOT will separate two entry and exit routes by about 700 feet, making the intersection less congested.

MoDOT is also widening US 59 to add a third lane. Whenever a train crosses Alabama Street, traffic backs up on US 59. The addition of a third lane will help keep traffic flowing.

“When trains go through and block the intersection, cars can have some congestion for a while and that should allow US-59 traffic to continue through because at the moment it’s obvious that traffic gets backed up from time to time when a train goes through. So that helps with congestion and should also help with safety,” said Shannon Kusilek, design engineer for MoDOT’s Northwest District.

MoDOT hopes the project will also help reduce the accident rate at the intersection, which is higher than the national average.

“It’s a crossbreed that’s been on the radar for a number of years,” Kusilek said. “We had some federal funds that were running out and we decided to use them for this crossbreed.”

But the $6-$8 million project is still a long way off. MoDOT will not accept building bids until March 2024 and work will begin later in the summer.

“It will not be completely closed,” said Kusilek. “There will be intermittent lockdowns, bits and pieces they can build at times. But if there is a closure that would affect one-way traffic going in a certain direction, we will make some detours for people.”

Novak said the project is necessary and will benefit South Siders.

“They’re talking about straightening 59 and then making those exits a lot clearer, easier and more accessible and putting a third lane in there so people have room to negotiate and navigate,” Novak said. “It’s going to be a great thing. It’s going to benefit the area and the South Side.”

Quinn Ritzdorf can be reached at [email protected]