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Community Safety
News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Traffic Delays to Continue at Grand and Kimbrough Until Late September

The start of K-12 classes this week brought an uptick in morning and mid-afternoon traffic to Springfield. But as college courses resume next week, crews will still be working to complete construction along a major thoroughfare near the Missouri State University campus.

Rush hour has produced heavy congestion this summer at the intersection of Grand Street and Kimbrough Avenue, where crews have been performing repairs to aging utility lines. The $658,765 project is funded by the 1/8-cent Transportation Sales Tax.

Martin Gugel is a traffic engineer with the City of Springfield.

“Murphey’s law would have it that if we didn’t take this time to take care of that, that we would have a main break a month or three after it would be opened and all this new stuff gets torn up to fix the water leak. It makes a lot of sense to do this work at the same time,” Gugel said.

The intersection has been limited to a four-way stop this summer. And while traffic lights at the intersection will again be fully functional by Monday, there’s still work that remains.

“The good news is that the traffic will be moving more smoothly because of the signal instead of everybody waiting to take turns. The bad news is we won’t be getting as many people through there as we’d like because we will have the lanes restricted for a little while longer,” said Gugel.

Gugel anticipates construction will be completed by late September. He said it’s a priority to have more lanes opened up by September 13th, when MSU football has its home opener.

A traffic study conducted in November 2008, the latest figures provided by Gugel, showed more than 20,000 vehicles passed through the Grand and Kimbrough intersection within a 24 hour period.

Meanwhile, the newly constructed wall at the corner of Jefferson and Bennett is getting an $86,000 facelift after drivers raised safety concerns. The wall, currently standing at 42-inches-high, blocked the view of oncoming traffic on Jefferson. It will be brought down to 27 inches. Also, crosswalk markings will be redraw so the stopbar on Bennett will be closer to Jefferson.

A new type of stoplight will be constructed at East Sunset Street, near the intersection with Kimbrough Avenue. The High-intensity Activated crossWalK, also known as the HAWK signal, will provide a new pedestrian and motorist-friendly experience for people looking to cross Sunset. One way the HAWK signal is different from traditional stoplights is that it will feature a flashing red light after the duration of a solid red light. Cars will be able to drive on with caution, given there are no pedestrians present, when the red light starts blinking.

“You don’t end up having the delays if the signal is activated and no one is present, but yeah it does help with traffic flow,” Gugel said.

On Springfield’s south side, lane shifts began on Republic Road Thursday between Campbell Avenue and Fremont Avenue. Gugel said the road widening project is scheduled to be completed next spring. Drivers should expect to see some short term closures and delays as the capacity of Republic is widened to five lanes.

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