MoDOT officials had their hands full during a two-hour public briefing Thursday afternoon on plans to change traffic flow at three intersections along the Expressway that the agency says are a safety concern.
The briefing was the second relating to a series of accidents at not only Key Largo Road but also Roundabout Road (Lk. Rd. 54-63) between Rt. KK and Y Road. Based on feedback from an April 25 meeting, MoDOT wants to allow traffic to turn right in and right out only at three intersections. The other intersection under intersection under consideration is Spring Valley Road, which has been accident free since Jan. 1.
Five accidents at Key Largo spurred MoDOT to begin a review of the safety issues and set the first public meeting. A sixth and fatal accident occurred after the meeting, and another person died recently from injuries sustained in an accident there.
The Key Largo Road intersection was partially closed after the fatal accident in Osage Beach, and has remained restricted since. Traffic flow at the other two intersections has not been altered.
Several MoDOT officials were stationed at various displays around the Osage Beach council chambers to listen to public concerns and suggestions. Several residents were at each location, and most had some type of concern.
Among those attending was a contingency of business owners concerned that MoDOT’s proposal to partially close all three intersections will only worsen business, which they say has dwindled considerably since the Expressway was opened several months ago.
About 18 business owners between Slumberland Furniture and Lake Printing on the Expressway met last week to discuss their options.
Chad Kautz, owner of Mexicali Blues, said earlier this week that if motorists are prevented from crossing the Expressway at the three locations, access to not only Mexicali Blues but also many businesses in the area would be severely impacted.
“Of course, we’re concerned,” Kautz said. “What they’ve done has pretty much killed business between Rt. KK and Harley Davidson on old Highway 54. What they’re proposing now is a 5.5-mile trip from Y Road to Rt. KK and back to get to some of these businesses. We don’t want that to happen to our businesses.”
The merchants have some possible solutions for MoDOT to consider:
•Lower the speed limit to 55 mph such as has been done near Linn Creek to reduce accidents. Despite the 65 mph speed limit, Kautz said people fly by there at 70 to 75.
•Acceleration and de-acceleration lanes in those areas like many of the other intersections along the Expressway.
•Flashing lights at turnarounds to remind people of potential danger.
“We want them to do anything to help, not hurt, businesses along that area,” he said.
Page 2 of 2 - Steve Truitt, president of Lake Printing, said at the public briefing that he favors reducing the speed limit to 55 mph from Rt. KK to Linn Creek where the speed limit is already 55. He said that may be a burden to motorists, but it’s a better option than limiting access to his and the other businesses in that area.
Jackie Powell, a resident of W Road who has business owner friends in the Key Largo area, summed up the comments of many: “There is a lot of concern, so many businesses affected and people don’t know where they’re going.”
She said if MoDOT fails to address not only the safety issues but also the lack of traffic on old Highway 54, “the area will become a ghost town.”
Powell also lamented the gradual loss of “mom and pop” businesses that don’t have the resources to survive the lower traffic count in that area. “They work all their lives to pass something on to their children and then they lose it,” she said.
Several Osage Beach and Camden County elected officials and staff attended the briefing as well.
An area was set up for citizens to either write comments or to use computers for comments. MoDOT will review input from the briefing and is expected to make a permanent recommendation in the next few weeks.
To provide comments online, go to www.modot.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Numbers to know
Accident History Jan. 1-June 14
Total Accidents 6
Serious Injuries 2
Minor Injuries 4
Roundabout Drive (Lk. Rd. 54-63)
Total Accidents 4
Minor Injuries 1
Property Damage 3
Spring Valley Road
No accidents within time period