Wednesday, August 15, 2007

4 Lane US 71 Opens at Pineville, MO

I spent this afternoon driving the new 4 Lane US 71 at Pineville, Missouri. It's the last section of 4 Lane highway to open between the Arkansas-Missouri State Line and Interstate 44 near Joplin. Traffic at either end of the new roadway was somewhat chaotic as MoDOT tries to tie the new 4 Lane into the previous opened 4l ane sections. I never realized how big a job this section was until I saw the deep roadcuts surrounding the roadway. Both exits: Route H and Route EE are fully open. Just north of EE, northbound 71 traffic shifted into one southbound lane for a about a mile so the new roadway can be properly joined with the already opened section that ended just south of Anderson. An at-grade intersection with Business 71 is being elimated, too (it's already been barricaded & closed to traffic).

Heading south on "new" 71, just past Route H, there is a ramp stub for future Interstate 49. 71 swerves SE at this point and the stub points slightly SW.
Business 71 heading south out of Anderson has been temporarily detoured down the newly completed West Outer Road to Route EE., then follows EE east back to "old 71" before heading south towards Pineville. The southern terminus of Business 71 is currently a dead-end. Approximately a mile south of Pineville the road is closed so it can be realigned to meet "new" 71 at an at-grade crossroad with Wolf Den Rd.

There is plenty of signage going both directions on Bus 71 at Route EE and Route H directing motorists to the new alignment of 71. BUT the old signage has not been removed prompting at least one motorist to become lost just south of Pineville. She thought she was on "mainline" 71 and was heading for Jane. When she encountered the barricades, she became confused and asked me how she was supposed to get to Jane (I had stopped to take photos). I directed her back to Route H, but I didn't follow to see if she found her way or not.

I didn't track "old" 71 north from Brush Creek because Rains Rd (old old 71, the only access to that section now) had been freshly oiled and I didn't want to get it all over my van. However, from what I could see from south of Pineville, that section of "old" 71 will dead-end somewhere north of Brush Creek and will not connect to the new 4 lane.

Progress. US 71 is now a 4 lane divided highway from Fayetteville, AR to Kansas City, MO and points beyond. Its days as a simple 2 lane country highway are all but past.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We drove the new section of Highway 71 yesterday as well. As a local person, it was very frustrating to be forced onto the freeway whether we wanted to or not. We were coming south from Anderson, and eventually found our way back to Pineville via a dirt road but encountered another local woman trying to go north equally confused. For those counting, this is the 4th route change for Highway 71 in the last 50 years or so. Maybe MODot will eventually get it right. Coming south, there was a sign to exit on EE west to Lanagan, but not to east to Pineville at that same intersection. I suppose thrifty MODot only puts signs up linking state highways and not to a city road (though it was once U.S. 71)

McDonald Co. has been a killing ground for years due to poorly designed highways and roads. MoDot seems to think that there will be no "local" traffic on the abandoned route. Perhaps if they could see over that huge "Chinese wall" at the state line, they could see the traffic volume on old 71 has built to gridlock in only a few short years. It won't happen that fast in McDonald Co., but it is folly to ignore such a precident and build in obstructions to future development and be blind to continued dangers.