There was drizzling sleet and temperatures well below freezing the day the ribbon cutting ceremony was held breaking ground on Route 242 in Lake Ozark. Eleven months later, officials, representatives and members of the community met again, only this time bundled against the rain.


There was drizzling sleet and temperatures well below freezing the day the ribbon cutting ceremony was held breaking ground on Route 242 in Lake Ozark. Eleven months later, officials, representatives and members of the community met again, only this time bundled against the rain.
Once the ribbon was cut, and the sidewalk cleared from the celebration, Route 242 was open connecting motorists from Horseshoe Bend Parkway to the other side of Lake Ozark at the Highway 54 expressway interchange.
The two-mile, four-lane highway opens more than a thousand acres of wooded, landlocked land for development.
Plans for the project were originally announced by the Horseshoe Bend Development Group in 2007. However, with a lack of funding, construction failed to start.
The new $8.3 road was funded through a partnership with Missouri Department of Economic Development, Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, the Horseshoe Bend Transportation Development District and the city of Lake Ozark.
George Stanton, who worked on the original plans, when it was called the Horseshoe Bend Parkway extension, acknowledged the project’s rough start.
“We came upon rough times, economically speaking,” Stanton said. “And it’s still not over. But, there’s a lot of things we can look forward to now. This road opens up a lot of possibilities.”
The positive economic impact to the entire Lake of the Ozarks is what attracted officials into awarded it a $4 million Community Development Block Grant, which got the project started.
“I see jobs. I see opportunities. I see tourism,” Mike Downing, deputy director of Missouri Department of Economic Development, said.
Route 242 combined with the new Highway 54 through Lake Ozark and Osage Beach have changed Lake of the Ozark’s landscape and the way motorists travel through the area.
Osage Beach Mayor Penny Lyons said it wasn’t too long ago when a fender bender on the old Highway 54 would cause traffic to back up for hours and as far as Camdenton.
A traffic study found that more than 43,000 vehicles were using the old, four-lane highway every day during peak summer tourist months, and that number was rising. Engineers projected traffic levels would increase to 65,000 vehicles per day by 2028 resulting in a complete gridlock if nothing was done.
Plans for the new Highway 54 began more than 20 years ago, Lyons said, and included dozens of meetings. Missouri Department of Transportation went above and beyond with public meetings, she added, asking people for their opinion at every stage and keeping them informed.
Lyons said when construction finally did start, she knew not everybody would be happy with the change, but the financial benefits have been significant.
There’s new land to expand in Osage Beach, and sales tax receipts have risen the first two months the entire expressway has been open, Lyons said.
Construction on lake-area roads is not complete, however.
In the coming year, crews will start building a new Hurricane Deck Bridge over Route 5 in Sunrise Beach.
There’s also a push to reconstruct routes MM, TT and F, located on Shawnee Bend, to complete the circle between Highway 54 and Route 5.